updated 9/13/2005 9:16:29 AM ET 2005-09-13T13:16:29

A warlord in southern Somalia has returned control of the UNICEF offices in the town where Somalia’s transitional government is based to the U.N., after taking over the compound two days ago, a U.N. spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The head of southern Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, Mohamed Omar Habeb also known as Mohamed Dheere, handed the keys to the U.N. children agency’s offices in Jowhar, 55 miles northeast of Mogadishu, to U.N. national staff early Tuesday, Sandra Macharia of the U.N. Development Program said in a statement.

Dheere did not say why he was handing back control of the offices to the U.N. after denying them access since Sunday, Macharia told The Associated Press.

In an interview with a local radio station in Somalia late Monday, Dheere said that his militia took over the UNICEF office for security reasons and to guard equipment there after the U.N. moved its international staff out of Jowhar on Thursday.

On Sunday, Dheere walked into the U.N. children agency’s offices and told staff to hand over the keys, said Christian Balslev-Olesen, the head of UNICEF’S Somalia office, on Monday. The office is based in neighboring Kenya because of the Horn of Africa nation is insecure.

Somalia’s President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi have set up their government in Jowhar because they say Mogadishu is still unsafe.

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