By Aweys Yusuf
MOGADISHU, Dec 26 2007 - A Somali radio station said the mayor of Somalia's capital shut it down on Wednesday for broadcasting an interview with an Islamist insurgent.
Abdul Qadir, a senior correspondent at Radio Somaliweyn, told Reuters Mogadishu mayor Mohamed Dheere had phoned him and ordered the station to close indefinitely.
Officials from Dheere's office were not immediately available for comment.
Qadir said Dheere was furious the station had run an interview with Ahmed Mohamed Qare, a member of the political wing of the Islamist movement routed from Mogadishu by allied Somali-Ethiopian troops a year ago.
Rights groups accused Dheere of gagging the press when he issued regulations last month forbidding journalists from running interviews with insurgents or their political sympathisers, or even reporting on military matters.
"The mayor has telephoned us and told us we are closed down for interviewing an Islamist," Qadir said. "No government official has come to talk to us. That is entirely unfair."
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemned the mayor's crackdown.
"NUSOJ ... demands the Regional Administration to immediately allow the radio to recommence its operations without restriction," it said in a statement.
The Somali government has increasingly cracked down on the media, accusing them of undermining national security, and has arrested journalists and media house managers.
Seven reporters have been killed since January in the Horn of Africa nation, as the government tries to curb a raging insurgency. Somali journalists say they are attacked by both sides.
(Writing by Tim Cocks; editing by Andrew Roche)