Somalia's al-Shabab calls famine tag 'propaganda'

By the Associated Press | July 22, 2011 | 6:44 AM EDT

Abdihakin Omar 3, a malnourished child from southern Somalia, lies on the floor in Banadir hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday, July 21, 2011. Somalia's 20-year-old civil war is partly to blame for turning the drought in the Horn of Africa into a famine. Analysts warned that aid agencies could be airlifting emergency supplies to the failed state 20 years from now unless the U.N.-backed government improves. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A spokesman for Somalia's most dangerous militant group says it won't allow banned aid workers into the areas it controls.

Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage is calling the U.N.'s declaration of famine in parts of Somalia politically motivated and pure propaganda.

Tens of thousands of hungry Somalis have fled on foot to neighboring Kenya.

A prolonged drought turned into famine in part because neither the Somali government or aid agencies can fully operate in areas of southern Somalia controlled by the group al-Shabab.

The U.S. agreed to allow emergency aid to be spent in areas controlled by al-Shabab so long as the militants didn't disrupt distribution efforts. But the al-Shabab spokesman said late Thursday aid workers were still banned.