About 60 soldiers forced their way into the WFP offices yesterday morning, taking Idris Osman, a Somali national, into custody at gunpoint and locking him up at the National Security Services headquarters.
No reason was given for the arrest, which prompted an immediate suspension of WFP work in the capital. But UN officials said it was linked to a new method of food distribution that began on Monday using 42 local mosques to get aid to more than 75,000 people in Mogadishu.
The WFP, which is struggling to deal with a growing hunger crisis in Somalia, had been unable to directly distribute food in the capital since June 25 due to violence and looting. “Going through the mosques guaranteed us a level of security the government cannot give,” said a UN official in Nairobi, who requested anonymity.
Although Somalia is almost completely Muslim, the transitional government views mosques, particularly in Mogadishu, with suspicion.