Mogadishu - At least two people died and nine, including a Somali parliamentarian, were wounded when a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) convoy of 72 food aid trucks was ambushed near the central Somali town of Baidoa, local officials said on Monday.

"We managed to save the food from looting after the militia realised we would not pay $500 per truck, but unfortunately two of the men guarding the food were killed," said Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade, a Somali politician who accompanied the convoy told reporters.

WFP resorted to delivering food aid by overland transport accompanied by armed escorts after two WFP-contracted food aid ships were hijacked, one for three months, last year.

The donated food was destined for the drought-stricken Bay and Bakol regions in southern Somalia. The convoy and its contents were reportedly intact and were being guarded by Habsade's men in Baidoa town.

A WFP spokesperson in Nairobi declined to comment on the Monday night incident, saying it was still under investigation.

Aid workers in the region fear that attacks on the few aid convoys braving the lawless Horn of Africa country will only further keep an already wanting humanitarian response to the 1,2-million Somalis currently in need of urgent food assistance, to the barest minimum.

A regional drought affecting Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Tanzania with its epicentre in Kenya has also provoked increased armed conflict in the region. - Sapa-dpa