UN says Somali govt won't repeat media raid

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NAIROBI, Sep 23 (Reuters) Leaders of Somalia's interim government have given assurances there will be no repeat of an armed raid this week on the independent Shabelle media house, new UN special envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah said.

But he told Reuters ''for me that is not enough. I judge people by their acts.'' He added in an interview: ''They (government leaders) say it was an accident. But what is important is that they recognised it was unnecessary, that it was a mistake.'' He was speaking in neighbouring Kenya after talks in Mogadishu with President Abdullahi Yusuf and other officials yesterday.

A security guard was wounded in Tuesday's raid at Shabelle, which, along with other independent media houses, has been accused by the authorities of supporting insurgents. It had already been taken off the air twice this year.

The raid followed an earlier one a week ago in which 18 Shabelle employees were briefly detained and interrogated.

The government's treatment of journalists has angered press freedom groups, and yesterday US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington was ''gravely concerned''.

''We call on the Transitional Federal Government to ensure the safety and protection of a free and independent media in Somalia,'' McCormack said in a statement.

''Shabelle Media Network and other Somali media organisations play a vital role in the continued political dialogue and reconciliation process in Somalia.'' Reconciliation efforts in the country have been hit by last week's formation in Eritrea of an opposition alliance vowing to wage war on Ethiopian troops supporting Yusuf's administration.

Abdallah said it was crucial Somalia's foreign friends did not get ''bogged down'' in analysing the country's often opaque clan and sub-clan structures in search of a lasting solution.

''That is not the point,'' he said. ''The point is, how do we get out of the situation that Somalia has been in for the last 16 years? You can't address a tragedy by just studying clans.'' And while he did not say explicitly whether he would meet leaders of the new opposition alliance, he said he would discuss his role widely with Somalis at home and in the Diaspora.

''I have seen the recognised government and I've no problem seeing any other Somali official, whether they are in Somalia, in Asmara or in Jeddah,'' the U.N. envoy said. ''Why not? I have no preconceived ideas and I will meet them all.'' REUTERS VD AS0821

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