A British Broadcasting Corp. (search) journalist died Wednesday after being shot in the back outside a hotel in the Somali capital by a militiaman, the broadcaster said.

Kate Peyton (search), 39, an Africa producer for the BBC, was shot while accompanied by BBC reporter Peter Greste outside the Sahafi Hotel in Mogadishu (search). Greste was not injured.

Peyton underwent surgery at a Mogadishu hospital and died after suffering complications, said Dr. Abdi Ibrahim, who operated on her. The BBC said she died from internal bleeding.

Peyton and Greste had just arrived in Somalia for a series of reports on the country. Peyton, who was based in South Africa, joined the BBC in 1993, the broadcaster said.

"Kate was one of our most experienced and respected foreign affairs producers who had worked all over Africa and all over the world. She will be greatly missed, both professionally and personally," BBC Director of News, Helen Boaden, said in the statement.

The reason for the shooting was not immediately known. There are many militiamen around the Sahafi Hotel to protect Somali lawmakers staying there as they assess conditions for relocating the government from neighboring Kenya, where it is currently based.

The assailant got into a car and was chased by other militiamen guarding Peyton, witnesses said. He later abandoned his car and escaped, they said.

"I am profoundly shocked and saddened by the news of Kate Peyton's death today," BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said. "All our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time."

President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed said Peyton's death "is extremely shocking and extremely tragic," his spokesman, Yusuf Ismail, said in Nairobi, Kenya. "It is a cowardly act and if the message was to scare the new Somali institutions or the international community, definitely the killers made a very significant mistake."

Somalia has had no effective central government since warlords ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. They then turned on each other, plunging this nation of 7 million into anarchy.

Mogadishu is in southern Somalia, where aid agencies have posted few international staff because of security concerns.