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Somali militants vow to block aid groups

Al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia vowed to keep most international aid workers out of the country despite a worsening famine, and the United Nations warned Friday that 800,000 children could die in the region from starvation.

Frustrated aid groups said they want to deploy more food assistance in Somalia but don't yet have the necessary safety guarantees to do so. The anarchic country has been mired in conflict for two decades and its capital is a war zone.

The renewed threat from al-Shabab means only a handful of agencies will be able to respond to the hunger crisis in militant-controlled areas of southern Somalia. And the largest provider of food aid -- the UN World Food Program -- isn't among those being allowed inside.

The UN fears tens of thousands of people already have died in the famine, which has forced Somalis to walk for days in hopes of reaching refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. -- AP

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