MOGADISHU - A Malaysian journalist was shot dead and another seriously wounded in the war-torn Somali capital Friday after clashes broke out involving African Union troops and other gunmen, officials said.
"A Malaysian journalist was killed and another was wounded after there was shooting involving the African Union forces," said Adbukarim Ali, a security official with the AU-backed government army.
The journalists were travelling with private militiamen, regularly hired by foreigners for protection against kidnapping in Mogadishu, one of the most dangerous capitals in the world.
"The men were hit by bullets when they were in their car, as they apparently were returning to their hotel," said Ali, adding the shooting took place in Mogadishu's central K4 area.
"It is still not clear exactly what happened, and the details of the incident are still emerging," he said.
Malaysia's national Bernama TV named the killed journalist as 39-year old Noramfaizul Mohd Nor, a cameraman with the media group. He was married with two sons.
The wounded journalist was Aji Saregar Mazlan, on a week-long visit to Mogadishu with a Malaysian aid agency, Bernama added. The team was due to have left Mogadishu to return home on Saturday.
It was not immediately possible to contact a spokesman for the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in Mogadishu.
However, a senior official not authorized to speak to the media confirmed a journalist had been killed and another wounded.
"There was a shooting today involving AMISOM, in which a journalist was killed, but the details are not clear at present of how it happened," the AMISOM official said.
Somalia is the country worst affected by the Horn of Africa's worst drought in decades, with nearly half its 10 million people in need of humanitarian aid, and several areas declared by the UN to be in famine.
Clashes between rival militia groups happen regularly in Mogadishu, a city that has been battered by a bloody insurgency as Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels fight to unseat the Western-backed government.
Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) rank Somalia as "Africa’s deadliest country for media personnel," with 23 media workers killed since 2007.
"Nor joins the long list of journalists killed in the course of their work in Somalia," RSF said in a statement.
Despite Islamist Shebab gunmen pulling out of positions in the capital last month, "violence and fighting in Mogadishu have not stopped, and covering Somalia continues to be extremely dangerous," the statement added.