NAIROBI - The international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) began closing all its humanitarian operations in Somalia on Wednesday because of attacks on its staff, the organization said on Wednesday.
The withdrawal of MSF - also known as Doctors Without Borders - is a blow to the government's effort to persuade Somalis and foreign donors that security is improving despite a stubborn Islamist insurgency.
Unni Karunakara, MSF's international president, acknowledged the charity's departure would cut off hundreds of thousands of Somalis from medical help.
"The closure of our activities is a direct result of extreme attacks on our staff, in an environment where armed groups and civilian leaders increasingly support, tolerate or condone the killing, assaulting and abducting of humanitarian aid workers," Karunakara told reporters in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
There was no immediate comment from the Somali government, which is struggling to haul the nation out of two decades of conflict and provides few public services such as health and education.