MOGADISHU, Dec 18 – Somalia\’s Al Qaeda-linked Shebab overran and looted UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) compounds in the western town of Baidoa, humanitarian sources and witnesses said Friday.
Heavily-armed Shebab fighters stormed three UNMAS compounds in Baidoa, a city which lies 250 kilometres (155 miles) 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 AFP. "We tried to stop the looting but the Shebab 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 the Shebab\’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 signposting some of the most vital and sensitive areas under the control of the mujahideen (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, Shebab 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.