The UN food agency said Tuesday that it is stopping aid distribution to about 1 million people in southern Somalia because of attacks against staff and "unacceptable" demands by armed groups.
The World Food Program said that up to 95 of those areas are controlled by the al-Shabab Islamist group, which the US State Department claims has links to al-Qaida.
The WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella said armed groups demanded WFP remove women from all posts and pay protection money to guarantee the aid workers' security.
Casella said that people who were receiving aid from WFP until now "face a situation that is particularly dire."
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