The international community has strongly condemned the murder of two broadcast journalists in Somalia.

The State Department Monday described the deaths of Ali Iman Sharmarke and Mahad Ahmed Elmi as an assault on all who are working for peace and freedom of expression in Somalia.

The United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, told VOA's English to Africa service Monday there needs to be decisive action to ensure the freedom and safety of media in the country. Six journalists have been killed in Somalia this year.

Elmi hosted a popular daily radio program. He was shot several times in the head as he walked to work Saturday. He was a manager of HornAfrik's Capital Voice radio station.

Hours later, as colleagues drove home from Elmi's funeral, a roadside bomb targeted the procession. Sharmarke, who founded and co-owned the HornAfrik media company, was killed. HornAfrik is a VOA affiliate and has criticized both the Somali government and insurgents.

Two men have been arrested for the murders, but their names have not been released.

Somalia's government has recently cracked down on the news media. Several outlets, including HornAfrik, were temporarily shut down by the government earlier this year.

The chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, James Glassman, and VOA Director Danforth Austin, issued a joint statement Monday, appealing to the Somali government to bring the perpetrators to justice and take substantive measures to protect and support free media.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported, non-military international broadcasting, including the Voice of America.