Somali Militants Ban 16 Aid Agencies

Posted November 28th, 2011 at 6:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Rebels from the Somali militant group al-Shabab have banned 16 international aid organizations and raided their offices in central and southern Somalia.

In a statement Monday, the al-Qaida-linked group accused the agencies of promoting secularism, immorality and what it described as “the degrading values of democracy in an Islamic country.”

Among the forbidden agencies are six United Nations organizations, including the World Health Organization, the U.N. Children's Fund and the U.N. refugee agency.

In towns under rebel control, armed militants seized the agencies' offices and looted equipment.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks, calling them “brazen.” He also called for the militants' ban to be immediately lifted.

Separately on Monday, a series of blasts killed at least six people in the capital, Mogadishu, including two people at a hospital for women and children.

Witnesses tell VOA the blast at Banadir hospital killed an infant and a female patient. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Al-Shabab withdrew its fighters from the capital in August, but has vowed to return.

The humanitarian groups have been working in southern and central Somalia to provide food aid to millions of hungry people.

The United Nations says famine still persists in three regions of Somalia with nearly 250,000 people at risk of starvation.

Troops from Kenya, the African Union and Somalia's transitional government are all battling al-Shabab. Ethiopia said last week it may contribute troops to the fight.