MOGADISHU, Somalia – Islamist fighters in Somalia said Friday that they seized food from the World Food Program from markets in Mogadishu and burned more than 500 bags of maize and wheat.
Sheik Ali Mohamed Hussein, an official with al-Shabab — Somalia's most powerful militant group — said the food was expired. A spokesman for WFP said the group does not distribute expired food.
"We have burned the expired food in public and we will continue the operation to check what is left in the markets to take care of the health of our people," Hussein said.
Photos of the burning showed white bags of wheat bearing an American flag and the stamp USAID — the US government's aid arm. Other bags were stamped World Food Program. One photo showed what appeared to be old, clumpy maize.
"WFP brought the dirty food to poison our people. Many would have died because of the expired food so we have traced and raided from the markets and decided to burn," Hussein said.
Peter Smerdon, a spokesman for WFP, said he was checking on reports of the food burning and couldn't immediately comment. He said that WFP does not provide food for distribution that is expired.