As the violence escalates, observers warn of famine and the worst humanitarian crisis on the African continent.
In a chilling development, Islamist insurgents in Somalia have launched what appears to be a targeted campaign of violence against foreign aid workers, pushing the already war-torn nation toward a full-scale famine, United Nations officials and observers warn.
The warnings come amid fresh violence that has left many civilians dead in the Somalian capital, the central battleground between the Western-backed government and armed Islamist militias.
The Islamist insurgents, who are fighting for the creation of an Islamic state, have long attacked foreigners working inside Somalia. But the recent spate of violence suggests the attacks have now coalesced into a deliberate terror campaign, The International Herald Tribune reports.
Ominous leaflets recently surfaced on the bullet-pocked streets of Mogadishu, Somalia's ruin of a capital, calling aid workers "infidels" and warning them that they will be methodically hunted down. Since January, at least 20 aid workers have been killed, more than in any year in recent memory. Still others have been abducted....
The attacks on aid workers – including Westerners, Somalis working for Western organizations and Somalis working for local groups – have escalated this month. Two weeks ago a high-ranking UN official was shot as he stepped out of a mosque. Last Sunday, a trucking agent in charge of transporting emergency rations was killed. On Thursday, three elders who were helping local aid workers distribute food at a displaced persons camp were shot and killed.
In response, the United Nations is withdrawing some employees from dangerous urban areas and cutting back on operations across the country.
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