A string of kidnappings and targeted killings of aid workers in Somalia
in recent weeks has prompted some international and local agencies to
suspend operations in Mogadishu and in other parts of the south. As
VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu reports from our East Africa Bureau in
Nairobi, there is confusion about who may be responsible for the
The head of a Somali group affiliated with the
German charity Bread for the World says the organization has suspended
operations in Somalia, following Friday's fatal shooting death of its
deputy director at his home in Mogadishu.
In a separate attack
earlier that day, the head of a local aid organization, SORDA, was
critically wounded by gunmen, as he distributed food to internally
displaced people south of the capital. Also on Friday, an aid worker
was reportedly shot to death in a town in central Somalia as he left
his house to attend services at a nearby mosque.
Eight days ago,
gunmen shot and killed the director of the U.N. Development Program in
Mogadishu. Leaflets threatening local aid workers with death if they
continue working have been found in Mogadishu and elsewhere.
Sunday, UNDP staff withdrew from the town of Baidoa, which hosts
Somalia's transitional parliament, amid rising security concerns for
its employees in the country.
The director of Mogadishu's Medina
Hospital, Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, says even veteran humanitarian workers who
have survived 17 years of lawlessness and violence in Somalia,
acknowledge the current security situation is the worst they have
"Yes, they are afraid," he said. "Some of our
colleagues, they got some threats. But you know, the situation is not
so easy to talk about."
Suspicion for the attacks has fallen on
a hardline Islamist opposition faction based in Eritrea, which
rejected a peace deal signed last month in Djibouti between the
Ethiopia-backed government and a more moderate opposition faction. The
hardline Islamists, along with a militant Somali group called the
Shabab, have vowed to continue fighting until all Ethiopian troops
Ethiopia's military intervened in Somalia in late
2006 to remove Islamists from power and to install the country's
secular government in its place. That move sparked a bloody,
Islamist-led insurgency, which has left thousands dead and more than
one million people displaced.
Through a combination of war,
drought, and food shortages, the United Nations says three million
people in Somalia are facing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis
throughout the country.
International and local humanitarian
organizations have declined to speak publicly about who may be
responsible for the attacks. But one western aid worker, speaking on
the condition of anonymity, tells VOA that there is no evidence to
suggest that Islamist insurgents are involved.