Somali soldier fires at crowd seeking food, 3 killed

By Guled Mohamed

MOGADISHU, June 25 (Reuters) - A Somali government soldier opened fire on Monday at a crowd clamouring for food aid in Mogadishu and killed at least people, witnesses said.

Three others were seriously wounded when the soldier fired in an apparent attempt to disperse a multitude trying to barge into a local authority building in an eastern district of the Somali capital where the grain was to be distributed.

"People tried to push through a gate before the food aid arrived," witness Halima Salad said. "One of the soldiers opened fire at the crowd. He killed three people and wounded three."

Two other witnesses spoke of three dead.

But Halimo Abdullahi, who lives in the same Abdiaziz district, said he believed five people had perished, and some local media echoed that number.

"He shot at the crowd without warning. The people were waiting for food aid that was to be distributed by a local organisation. This is cold-blooded murder," he said.

Government officials did not comment on the latest bloodshed in the city. And senior police officials were unavailable.

Millions of Somalis are suffering food shortages due to their nation's unrelenting violence, drought and floods in the last two years, and poor access for aid organisations.

Somalia has been without effective central rule since the 1991 ouster of a dictator by warlords plunged the country into anarchy. Since then, thousands have died from war and hunger.

Somali authorities from an interim government set up in 2005 in the 14th attempt to restore central rule have imposed a curfew on Mogadishu to try and stem violence, but sporadic gunfire and explosions can still be heard in the night.

The government faces an Islamist-led insurgency after routing Islamists from Mogadishu late last year with the help of Ethiopian troops.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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