Somalia's Shebab ban British aid agency

18th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Somalia's hardline Islamist rebels stormed the offices of British-based relief agency World Vision in southern Somalia and ordered the NGO to cease its operations, staff and residents said Tuesday.

Armed Shebab militants entered World Vision's compounds Monday in Wajid, a major humanitarian hub in southern Somalia, and in Baidoa, a large town northwest of the capital Mogadishu, NGO staff told AFP.

An employee said he and other staff did not go to work on Tuesday because of the Shebab threat.

"Their militants stormed our offices in Wajid and Baidoa and took control of them. All staff members were told to leave the offices, including the security personnel," the employee said on condition of anonymity.

The World Vision staff member said its officials were due to meet Shebab leaders in Baidoa on Tuesday to discuss the future of their operations.

According to the NGO's website, the organisation has been active in Somalia since 1992 and has been focusing on primary health care in the Wajid and Baidoa regions.

Adan Dhubow, a Baidoa resident, said Shebab gunmen were guarding a World Vision tuberculosis centre, allowing patients to pick up their medicine but denying access to everybody else.

Shebab officials contacted by AFP declined to comment.

The Shebab, which have declared their allegiance to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network and control most of southern and central Somalia, have imposed strict conditions on foreign humanitarian organisations.

© 2010 AFP

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