Somalia President Sharif Ahmed pictured at a U.N. meeting in 2011.

Story highlights

NEW: The government condemns the "outrageous assassination"

Hassan Osman Abdi, 29, was shot outside his home in Mogadishu on Saturday

Adbi is the third head of the Shabelle Media Network to be killed

Somalia is among the most dangerous places to be a reporter, a media group says

CNN  — 

Somalia’s president strongly condemned the killing of a leading journalist as a “senseless murder,” suggesting Sunday that the country’s al Qaeda-linked Islamist militia Al-Shabaab may have been responsible.

Hassan Osman Abdi, 29, was shot outside his home in Mogadishu on Saturday and died on the way to the hospital, according to other journalists.

President Sharif Ahmed “condemns and expresses grief and sorrow” at the murder, he said in a statement, urging the public to help police investigate the killing.

“It has long been the strategy of groups like Al-Shabaab to target public figures in our society with the aim of spreading fear and panic. We will not be intimidated or threatened by such odious acts,” the president said.

Minister of Information Abdulkadir Hussein Mohamed Jaahweyne called the killing an “outrageous assassination” and said police would “not leave a stone unturned to arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators of this shocking murder.”

Abdi was the director of Shabelle Media Network, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and Reporters Without Borders. He had also previously done some freelance work for CNN.

He is the third Shabelle Media Network director to be murdered, Reporters Without Borders said.

The information minister called Shabelle “one of the most important and pioneering media houses serving the country.”

Unknown gunmen opened fire as Abdi arrived at his home in Madina district, striking him in the head and chest, NUSOJ said.

“This is a terrible tragedy, both for Hassan Osman Abdi’s family and for the Somali journalist community,” said Omar Faruk Osman, secretary general of the NUSOJ.

According to local journalists, Abdi was likely killed because of his role in reporting on politics and corruption cases, NUSOJ reported.

Somalia is the deadliest country in Africa for media personnel, and Mogadishu ranked as one of the world’s most-dangerous places for journalists in 2011, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Shabelle Media Network director Bashir Nur Gedi was murdered in 2007, and his successor Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe was killed in 2009, said the group, which called for a “serious and impartial investigation” into his murder.

Abdi, known as “Hassan Fantastic,” was the father of three children, NUSOJ said.

CNN’s David McKenzie contributed to this report.