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VOA Somali Journalist Released From Puntland Prison


Police in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region have released a journalist working for Voice of America after holding him in jail without charge for more than two weeks.

The Director of VOA's Africa Division, Gwen Dillard, welcomed the move Wednesday, saying Mohamed Yasin Isahaq is an excellent journalist.

Isahaq was taken into custody on December 20 after officials from the government's Puntland Intelligence Services surrounded his house with armed vehicles.

His arrest came after he reported a story for VOA on the plight of internally displaced Somalis in and around the southern part of Galkayo, Puntland.

In November, Isahaq suffered a minor chest injury after police at a security checkpoint in Galkayo opened fire on his car.

Isahaq said he believed the shooting may have been connected to tensions between Puntland officials and journalists working in the region.

In October, Puntland's regional authority imposed a temporary ban on VOA reporting and broadcasts, after accusing the U.S. government-funded agency of producing "negative" reports that caused instability.

VOA's Somali service broadcasts 3.5 hours of news daily on AM, FM and shortwave radio, as well as the Internet.

Puntland has been relatively peaceful compared to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, which sees near-daily violence and killings.

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