Hazards to reporters limit information


NAIROBI, Kenya -- Delays and confusion over information on the major battle between United Nations forces and Somalian militiamen this weekend has underscored the difficulties for journalists operating in Mogadishu.

Most major news organizations have withdrawn from the Somalian capital for safety reasons and because travel restrictions made it virtually impossible to do any reporting. Only a handful of reporters are left in the capital. As a result, news gathering has relied mostly on limited U.N. and Pentagon briefings.

Even information from official briefings has remained extremely difficult to gather because of bad phone lines to Somalia, limited U.N. staff in Mogadishu and delays by U.S. military in providing details.

The U.N. recently locked its headquarters gates to journalists because it feared retaliation. And in recent weeks there have been increasing numbers of threats by supporters of Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidid to take American citizens hostage.

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