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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Somalia Islamists receiving UN Food Distribution? - Somaliland Battle Continues

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Up to 60 Somali intelligence officers stormed a U.N. compound in Mogadishu on Wednesday and seized the World Food Programme's local chief of operations at gunpoint, prompting WFP to immediately stop aid distribution.

Riding in two "technicals" -- pickup trucks with mounted with heavy guns -- armed security officers forced their way into U.N. offices before taking the Somali head of WFP operations in Mogadishu to a cell at intelligence headquarters.

A police spokesman confirmed Idris Osman's detention, but declined to say why he had been taken. Another government officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said the order to arrest him came from the head of the national security service.
WFP said it received no explanation as to why Osman had been taken away, and called for his immediate release.

In a statement the food agency said Somalia's national security services had violated international law by storming the compound, close to Mogadishu's airport.

"In the light of Mr. Osman's detention and in view of WFP's duty to safeguard its staff, WFP is forced immediately to suspend these distributions," it said.
That halts the agency's first distribution of food since June in Mogadishu, which aimed to help 75,000 people.

A relative of Osman, who demanded anonymity for fear of reprisal, said an earlier quarrel with government officers sparked his arrest.

"Some government officers wanted to supply and monitor his work themselves. He objected to that and as a result the national security arrested him on the pretext of linking him to terrorists," the relative said......

  • .......Meanwhile, in northern Somalia, officials from the semi-autonomous Puntland region said 1,800 soldiers and volunteers had arrived in its capital on Wednesday.
  • Puntland's president has vowed to take back the disputed village of Las Anod, which the breakaway republic of Somaliland claims for its own and captured during a battle on Monday.
  • Somaliland has warned that any counter-attack will be met with further incursion into Puntland. Its troops are about 45 km from the administrative capital Garowe.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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