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Africa
UN aid worker killed in Somalia
World Food Programme employee abducted and shot by unknown attackers.
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2008 19:20 GMT
Experts fear that 3.5 million Somalis could need food aid later this year [AFP]

A Somali working for the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) has been killed after being abducted in southern Somalia.

Abdulkadir Diad Mohamed was abducted by unidentified men in the town of Dinsor and killed after trying to escape, the Rome-based agency said on Monday.

"I am shocked by this senseless and barbaric attack on one of our staff,'' Josette Sheeran, WFP executive director, said.

The driver of the vehicle Mohamed was travelling in when he was taken was also believed to have been killed, the agency said.

The wife of the WFP worker, who gave her name only as Isho, said that the bodies had been "riddled with bullets. We don't know why they killed them".

Five drivers working for a firm contracted to the agency have been killed this year and four aid workers have been kidnapped.

"WFP does not believe his death to be related to the recent spate of targeted attacks on aid workers in Somalia," WFP said in a statement.

Marcus Prior, a WFP spokesman, told The Associated Press news agency that Mohamed was off duty and was not in a marked agency vehicle when he was abducted.

Humanitarian crisis

Kidnappings and killings are common in the Horn of Africa nation, some attacks are political but others are the result of lawlessness in a desperately poor country awash with weapons.

The fighting between the Ethiopian-backed government and anti-government fighters in Somalia has forced many aid groups to scale back their operations despite a humanitarian crisis that aid workers say may be the worst in Africa.

More than 8,000 civilians have been killed and at least one million uprooted by the violence since early last year, and their plight has been compounded by record high food prices, hyper-inflation and drought.

WFP said experts fear that the number of Somalis needing food aid could reach 3.5 million people later this year, nearly half of the country's population.

Source:
Agencies
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