Last one out: Somalis close Al Jazeera office

No explanation offered for move

Qatar-based news broadcaster Al Jazeera said late Thursday it has been forced to close its Mogadishu office "without explanation" by the Somali interim government.

Al Jazeera, which had the only permanent news offices in the Somali capital, said it will continue to cover events in Somalia from other sources and locations.

"The committee for the national security council of the Somali interim government ordered that the Al Jazeera office in Mogadishu stop its operation as from today, Thursday, March 22, 2007, without giving any explanations or reasons behind the decision," Al Jazeera director general Wadah Khanfar said in a statement.

"Al Jazeera, while expressing its disappointment in the decision to close our office in Mogadishu, reasserts its commitment to the principles of the free press and defends the right of viewers to know what happens across the world with impartiality and integrity," he added.

The war-torn African nation is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous territories for broadcast news organizations and the potential risks to staff has seen such organizations as the BBC pull its staff out of the region.