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Doctors Without Borders Say Two Staffers Shot to Death in Somalia

The medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders has confirmed the shooting deaths of two of its staff members in Somalia’s capital. The Somali government says the shootings were an isolated incident and says it is doing all it can to provide security to humanitarian workers. The shootings come one week after two World Food Program staff members and another aid worker were killed, also in Somalia.

Belgian national Philippe Havet and Indonesian medical doctor Andrias Karel Keiluhu were in Mogadishu providing emergency assistance to people who had been displaced by war and hunger.

They were shot Thursday morning in the aid agency’s compound. One of the aid workers died at the scene and the other one died after surgery in the evening.

In its statement Friday, Doctors Without Borders provided few details of the incident, but said it would be re-locating some of its staff for security reasons while continuing its work in Mogadishu and other areas of Somalia.

When contacted by VOA, a Doctors Without Borders spokesperson said the agency was not commenting about the shootings at this time.

Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government also released a statement Friday condemning the killings.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman.

“The police are currently conducting a thorough investigation, and once we found out exactly the nature [of the shooting], we will bring it to the attention of the media,” Osman said.

Osman was quick to allay security concerns.

“Mogadishu is very peaceful and safe. We do not want this isolated incident to distract the attention of the international community, in particular those aid agencies coming to help those who are desperately in need. The government is doing everything it can. The prime minister has promised that, whoever was responsible would be brought to justice. He is a criminal, and these things can happen,” Osman said.

The shootings come one week after two staff members of the World Food Program and a member of an associated organization were shot to death by a gunman in central Somalia. The aid workers were monitoring a food distribution at the time of their deaths.

Aid workers are increasingly becoming targets in volatile Somalia. Last month, the militant group al-Shabab, which has been battling African Union troops supporting the transitional government, banned 16 international aid agencies from operating in the territories it controls. Al-Shabab accused the agencies of spying on behalf of Western entities.

In mid-December, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, told reporters that Somalia’s combination of drought and warfare is the most “complex and acute” crisis in the world, affecting four million people.

Bowden launched the 2012 Somalia Consolidated Appeal Process, or CAP, which is asking global donors for $1.5 billion to fund 350 projects operated by 148 humanitarian organizations. These include U.N. agencies as well as national and international aid groups.