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Medecins Sans Frontieres's employees leave Somalia

By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: Three staff members of a secular humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders its official name in the United States) were killed in Somalia earlier this week. The group pulled all its 87 foreign employees from the country.

Group members were "deeply shocked by the murder of their team" in an attack that they called "probably premeditated."

Some 800 Somali employees are still carrying out MSF activities in the country.

Three staff members of the Dutch branch of the group were killed and one wounded when their vehicle hit a land mine Monday on a stretch of road between the international staff members' home and the hospital where they worked in the southern Somali town of Kismayo, said Malika Saim of MSF's headquarters in Paris.

Those killed were a Kenyan surgeon, a French logistics expert and a Somali driver, she said. She said the route was one the group took almost daily, and that the car was clearly marked as belonging to MSF.

Saim said it was unclear who was behind the attack or whether an investigation was under way.

"Out of respect for the victims and because of the opaque circumstances around the attack," MSF evacuated 87 international staff working on 14 projects in Somalia, the group said.

Christophe Fournier, head of the international board of MSF, said in the statement that the departure of the international staff would "deeply affect" medical services provided by MSF in Somalia.

He called the attack "a serious violation of the humanitarian action that our colleagues were involved in."

The group noted that the attack came as the country is already in a critical state and facing mounting violence that is increasing the need for urgent medical care. MSF has been in the country for more than 16 years.

Aside from injuries and death associated with stray bullets, mines and epidemic disease, MSF volunteers are sometimes attacked or kidnapped for political reasons. In some countries afflicted by civil war, humanitarian aid organisations may be viewed as helping the enemy, if an aid mission has been set up exclusively for victims on one side of the conflict, and be attacked for that reason.

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