Islamist extremist group al Qaeda has donated food, money and clothes to Somalia in an apparent publicity push that shows its close ties with the Shebab rebels, a monitoring service said on Friday.
Citing photos released by the rebels, the Intel Center monitoring group said the aid was delivered at a high-profile ceremony in the country in a bid to cement a stronger support base with the Somali population.
Aid agencies say regular deliveries of much-needed aid in the poverty-stricken country are almost impossible due to the security situation, as rebels routinely steal donated food and medicines, and aid workers are threatened with kidnapping.
The Islamist Shebab rebels waged a four-year battle in Mogadishu to topple the Somali government before suddenly abandoning the majority of its bases in the capital in August. They still control much of the country.
Analysts said internal dissent, dwindling resources and popular support as well as their failure to dislodge the government forced the rebels to give up the bloody campaign.