MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali Islamist militants have killed the head of a food distribution charity in central Somalia, a pro-government militia said on Friday, the latest blow to the relief effort in the famine-hit country.
“The rebels killed Abdikarim Hashi Kediye, the head of Towfiq ... and his driver yesterday afternoon between Dusamareb and Guriel,” Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf, the spokesman of the Ahlu Sunna militia group told Reuters on Friday.
He said the rebels had used a rocket propelled grenade.
Towfiq’s coordinator Abdullahi Mohamud Yaardi vowed to continue the group’s humanitarian work in Somalia’s Galgadud region, but the attack underscored the perilous conditions aid workers face in the anarchic country.
On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) suspended food distribution to more than 1.1 million people in southern and central Somalia after the insurgents held up convoys carrying emergency food relief.
The ICRC said on Friday it expected explanations from local authorities linked to al Shabaab about why its food consignment for hungry Somalis has been stuck for four weeks in Jowhar near Mogadishu for quality control.
“The longer we wait, of course, the food won’t get any better,” Benjamin Wahren, deputy ICRC head of operations for East Africa who is in charge of Somalia, told a news briefing in Geneva.
The ICRC’s food supplies, intended for 240,000 people, have been offloaded from its 140 trucks into warehouses, he added.
Residents said al Shabaab wanted only Islamic agencies to provide aid in the areas it controls.
Aid agencies say a devastating drought in the Horn of Africa country last year has been compounded by fighting between the al Qaeda-linked rebel group and Kenyan troops deployed alongside Somali government forces in the south of the country.
Both al Shabaab and the Somali army said they had inflicted casualties on the other in at least two incidents on Thursday. Journalists are unable to report freely in the area.
Kenya sent its army into southern Somalia in October to crush the rebels’ networks. Ethiopia has also deployed forces.