Somali comedian who poked fun at Islamists shot dead

Gunmen shot dead a well-known comedian known for poking fun at Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab insurgents in the Somali capital Mogadishu, officials and colleagues said Wednesday.

Abdi Jeylani Malaq Marshale, in his late thirties or early forties, was killed late Tuesday, minutes after leaving Kulmiye radio station, where he worked as drama producer and performer.

"Two men shot and seriously injured Marshale… the comedian was later pronounced dead," said police lieutenant Mohamed Gaal, adding that "unfortunately the assailants escaped."

The shooting of Marshale, who also worked for the London-based Universal TV station and who reported having received death threats on several occasions, is the latest in a string of apparently targeted killings against media workers.

Colleagues mourned the loss of a man they called a leader of the war-torn nation's comedy scene. His shows have aired on Universal TV and are also available on YouTube.

"He had not done anything wrong to anybody, as far as we are concerned, but they shot him in the head and shoulders," said Yusuf Keynan, a presenter at Kulmiye radio.

"This is a black day for the entire entertainment industry, he was a leader in Somali comedy and everybody liked his performance."

Marshale was known for airing dramas making fun of the extremist Al-Shabab and for participating in youth advocacy programs aimed at preventing young Somalis from joining the insurgents.

So far this year, at least one Somali journalist has been targeted and killed each month.

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