Somali media house say troops shoot at office

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MOGADISHU, Sep 18 (Reuters) Somalia's independent Shabelle media house said government troops surrounded its Mogadishu office today and opened fire at the building.

Interim government officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the incident, which came after security forces arrested 18 staff at the broadcaster on Saturday.

''They are right outside the gate. They have been firing at our building for nearly two hours now,'' Shabelle acting manager Jafar Kukay told Reuters by telephone from inside the office.

''Some of the employees and I hit the deck ... others ran upstairs. I do not know whether they are hurt or not.'' The interim government's relationship with independent media houses has been rocky since it and its Ethiopian army backers routed an Islamist movement from the capital over the New Year.

Remnants of the Islamist group are blamed for insurgency of roadside bombs, assassinations and suicide blasts since then- and local broadcasters have been accused of being biased in their reporting.

REUTERS ARB HT1610

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