At least 10 Somalis were killed on Friday when a shoot-out over food aid erupted in Mogadishu. The battle started when soldiers and residents began looting a truckload of food meant for famine victims, according to Reuters.
Witnesses said that soldiers opened fire on refugees, and also fought amongst each other, at the Badbaado camp in the capital city. Some reports say that looters were dressed in military costumes, but were recognized and fired upon by soldiers guarding the truck.
"At least 10 people died and 15 others were wounded," Aden Kusow, himself a refugee, told Reuters.
"Seven of those died in the camp. The other three died outside as they fled. Most of those who died are refugees," he said.
Rebel group al-Shabaab has a history of intercepting Western aid packages, but they said last month that they would begin allowing humanitarian groups to enter rebel-controlled territory. But, according to the United Nations, al-Shabaab has yet to make good on their promise, and many hungry Somalis have struggling to find food elsewhere.
About 100,000 people have fled to Mogadishu in the past two months, hoping to find work, food and safety. The rapid increase of internally displaced persons in the capital is in part what has caused the U.N. to officially declare famine in the city and surrounding areas on Tuesday.
Famine has now been declared in five regions of Somalia, meaning that in the areas "at least 20 percent of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope," and malnutrition rates have exceeded 30 percent.
A total of 12.4 million people in Somalia require immediate assistance, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the number of people needing lifesaving humanitarian assistance could reach 15 million before the situation begins to turn around.
The current famine is the worst humanitarian disaster in Africa in two decades. The last time there was such a large-scale famine was in 1991-1992; it also occurred in Somalia.