Gunmen kill Somali aid worker, driver

2012-01-13 08:00

Mogadishu - Gunmen on Thursday killed a local aid worker and his driver in central Somalia, an official, elders and non-governmental organisation workers said.

"We got horrible information saying an aid worker and his driver were killed. They were working with a local NGO and their job was to deliver food aid to people in need. We are still investigating the incident," said Ibrahim Ali, a security officer in Dhusamareb district.

"The assailants fired a rocket propelled grenade, destroying the car. The officer and his driver instantly died... and we don't know who the assailants were," said Ahmednur Adan, an elder in the area.

"The bodies of the victims were taken to where their relatives live and the motive of the killing is not clear yet," said Osman Manlawe, another witness.

The sources identified the aid worker as Abdikarin Hashi Kediye, who worked with Towfiq Development Organisation, a local NGO, which they described as a partner of the World Food Programme (WFP).

The driver has not been named.

It is not clear what motivated the killing, which took place in a region controlled by the moderate Sufi group Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa. Other militia groups are also present in the region.

The incident comes less than three weeks after three aid workers, two of whom were WFP staff, were killed by an armed man in Mataban district of Hiran province in central Somalia.

In that incident a gunman opened fire instantly killing one WFP staff member and a man working for a co-operating partner. A second WFP staff member was shot and later died as a result of his injuries.

Draconian restrictions

The gunman in the Hiran attack gave himself up to authorities. WFP temporarily suspended operations in the area.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since president Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

One of the world's most dangerous countries for aid workers, Somalia is also in great need of their presence after two decades of war and a series of famines, culminating in a particularly devastating one that started in late 2010.

The Shabaab Islamists, who control much of the south of the country, have imposed draconian restrictions on international aid agencies operating in the areas they control, large parts of which were declared famine zones earlier this year.

In November, the Shabaab ordered shut 16 UN and other international aid agencies after raiding several of their offices, banning organisations that it considers to be "engaged in activities deemed detrimental to the attainment of an Islamic State".

The Shabaab’s raids left just a handful of aid agencies able to operate in rebel-held areas, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Medecins Sans Frontieres.

ICRC said Thursday it had suspended food aid to 1.1 million people in southern and central Somalia because of obstruction by local militia.

The UN has called Somalia the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Three regions of south Somalia are still in a state of famine.