Somalia: Six dead in Mogadishu refugee camp blast

An MSF clinic in Somalia (Copyright Yann Libessart/MSF) The closure of the centres halves the medical assistance MSF is providing in Mogadishu

Six people have been killed by a suicide bomb attack in a refugee camp in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The victims included a security guard and a local aid worker, witnesses said.

Meanwhile, two major medical centres run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) near the site of the blast have closed.

The charity said it had taken the decision after two MSF workers, a Belgian administrator and Indonesian doctor, were killed last month.

The bomb exploded just 20 minutes after a team of international journalists had left the Mogadishu camp.

They had gone to Mogadishu to see the situation six months after the famine was first declared.

Famine relief

Last August, Islamist militants withdrew from Mogadishu, which is controlled by the UN-backed government.

Start Quote

The brutal assassination of our colleagues in Hodan makes it impossible for us to continue working in this district of Mogadishu”

End Quote Christopher Stokes Head of MSF

About 300,000 people have since flooded into the city seeking famine relief.

The BBC's Mogadishu correspondent Mohamed Moalimu, currently in London, says most of them have been housed in displacement camps in the area where the two MSF centres were based.

The East African region is suffering from its worst drought in 60 years. Many Somalis have fled rural areas controlled by the Islamist al-Shabab group as it has banned most Western aid agencies from operating in its territory.

Somalia is said to be one of the world's most dangerous places for aid workers to operate.

'Genuinely life-saving'

The two 120-bed medical centres which have been closed were the largest of MSF's 13 projects in Somalia and the closure halves the assistance the charity provides in the capital.

"It is hard to close health services in a location where the presence of our medical teams is genuinely life-saving every day," MSF head Christopher Stokes said in a statement.

Indonesian aid worker Andrias Karel Keiluhu (L) and Philippe Havet (R) who were killed in Mogadishu on 29 December 2011 MSF workers Andrias Karel Keiluhu (L) and Philippe Havet were killed in Mogadishu on 29 December

"But the brutal assassination of our colleagues in Hodan makes it impossible for us to continue working in this district of Mogadishu," he said.

The two foreign MSF workers were killed on 29 December in one of the charity's compounds by a Somali national.

The man had fired the shots after being placed under investigation for alleged fraud. He was then arrested.

According to MSF, since August the Hodan medical centres had treated nearly 12,000 malnourished children and more than 1,200 for patients for diarrhoea. At least 861 were treated for measles, while 67,200 children were vaccinated against the disease.

Our correspondent says they mainly treated displaced people affected by the food crisis, while the city's two main hospitals - Medina and Keydsaney - are run by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Earlier this week, the UN said a quarter of a million Somalis were still suffering from the famine and the crisis was likely to continue for the next six or seven months.

In October, two MSF staff were kidnapped from the Dadaab refugee camp over the border in Kenya, which is home to almost half a million Somalis who have fled conflict and drought.

The two Spanish women are believed to be held in Somalia.

"MSF strongly reiterates its call to all parties, the leadership and the people of Somalia to facilitate the safe release of Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut," the MSF statement said.

The war-torn country has been without a central functioning government since 1991, with rival militias vying for power.

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