At least 10 people have been killed in an extremist attack in Somalia including a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist and her husband.
Mogadishu-based independent radio station Radio Dalsan confirmed to The Associated Press that Hodan Nalayeh and Farid Jama Suleiman died in the attack Friday.
A Somali official says the attack started with a suicide car bomb blast and then gunmen stormed a hotel in the port city of Kismayo.
Global Affairs Canada has not confirmed the deaths but says it is aware of a bombing in Somalia and say consular officials in Nairobi, Kenya are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information.
Nalayeh was born in Somalia in 1976, but spent most of her life in Canada, first in Edmonton and then in Toronto.
The Somali Journalists Syndicate says Naleyeh was the producer, presenter and founder of Integration TV.
Integration TV released a statement confirming the “unexpected and tragic loss” of Nalayeh and her husband.
“She spent her life devoted to serving the Somali people and reporting on positive, uplifting stories. Her dedicated mission was to spread light and love to the Somali world through her work in journalism,” read the statement. “She died serving the Somali community everywhere and doing what she loved most.”
It says she had recently returned to Somalia from Canada, where she attended school and worked as a journalist on TV programs in Toronto.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she is sad and shocked to hear about her death.
In Ontario, Hodan launched @IntegrationTV to tell the beautiful stories of the Somali Diaspora, and took that same humanity and love to her reporting and storytelling in Somalia.
My thoughts are with her family, and the victims of the #Kismayo attack during this horrific time.
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) July 12, 2019
Nalayeh’s Integration TV program launched in 2014. During its run she interviewed guests including former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne.
She was also the founder of the Somali Refugees Awareness Project, a non-profit organization that advocates for Somali refugees across the world.
Nalayeh was the mother of two boys.
On one of her social media accounts she described herself as: “Mom. Optimist. Journalist. TV Host.”
“Passionate about sharing #Somali stories.”
Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamic rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack.