Somalia’s al-Shabaab loots UN compounds

Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab overran and looted United Nations Mine Action Service (Unmas) compounds in the western town of Baidoa, humanitarian sources and witnesses said on Friday.

Heavily armed al-Shabaab fighters stormed three Unmas compounds in Baidoa, a city that lies 250km west of Mogadishu, on Thursday.

”They took the computers and every piece of equipment they could find,” a local elder, who asked to be named only as Ahmed, told Agence France-Presse. ”We tried to stop the looting but al-Shabaab wouldn’t listen.”

A UN employee speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the looting. Both sources said foreign jihadi fighters were among the attackers.

The raid took place on the same day that al-Shabaab’s ”office for supervising the affairs of foreign agencies” announced it was banning the UN mine-clearing organisation.

The Islamist group accused Unmas of spying, charging it had been ”surveying and sign-posting some of the most vital and sensitive areas under the control of the mujahedin [holy warriors].”

A UN official speaking on condition of anonymity said Thursday’s attackers made away with three fully equipped ambulances, as well as valuable radio equipment.

In July, al-Shabaab fighters had already looted compounds run by three different UN agencies and made away with several vehicles, at least one of which was later used to carry out a suicide car bomb attack. — Sapa-AFP

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