Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hungry Somalis stone storefronts

Rioting spread throughout Mogadishu on Monday. Prices for cereals are up between 100 and 400 percent over the past year.

Associated Press

Rioting spread throughout Mogadishu on Monday. Prices for cereals are up between 100 and 400 percent over the past year.

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Thousands of angry Somalis rioted Monday over rising food prices and the collapse of the nation's currency, culminating in clashes with government troops and armed shopkeepers that killed at least five protesters, witnesses and officials said.

Shops and markets throughout Mogadishu quickly shut their doors as protesters, including many women and children, stoned storefronts and chanted slogans accusing traders of cheating them. Within an hour, their ranks swell to tens of thousands, and the riot spread to all 13 districts of the capital.

"I've never demonstrated before, but I'm not ashamed because if you can't eat, you will do whatever you can," said Abdullahi Mohammed, 57, of Mogadishu. "Before I was eating three times a day, but now sometimes it's not even once."

Somalia's beleaguered population is coping with a civil war that began with the collapse of the government in 1991. But recently, the Horn of Africa nation's food industry, which previously thrived thanks to private traders, has been grappling with soaring inflation, spurred by an explosion of counterfeit currency over the last year and the global spike in food prices. Somalia imports at least 60 percent of its grain and its local crops this year were devastated by a cycle of drought and flooding.

As a result, prices for rice, maize, sorghum and other cereals are up between 100 and 400 percent over the past year. A sack of rice that sold for $32 only one month ago is going for $52.

At the same time, the nation's currency, the shilling, has lost half its value against the U.S. dollar over the past year, requiring consumers to carry sacks of money just to buy common grocery items.

Somalia joins a growing list of African countries where rising food prices have led to violence, including Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Egypt. Monday's riots followed a smaller outbreak in the Somali capital last month. Around the same time, rioters also looted two World Food Program trucks in Mogadishu, apparently encouraged by a local government official who announced on the radio that people should vent their frustration against the WFP convoy rather than steal from local shops. The stolen food eventually was returned to the WFP, with a government apology, according to a spokesman for the program.

In recent days, unrest returned when shop owners, who had been pressuring customers to pay in dollars, said they no longer would accept old, worn-out shillings.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

>>FAST Facts

World crisis

• The Asian Development Bank said Monday that a billion poor people in Asia need food aid to help cope with the skyrocketing prices.

• Abdoulaye Wade, the president of Senegal, said the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization should be dismantled, calling it a "money pit" and blaming it for the food crisis.

• U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon says he is moving "at full speed" pushing efforts to tackle the world food crisis and will hold the first meeting of a U.N. task force on the issue on Monday.

• A team of U.S. officials is in North Korea trying to reach agreement with the Stalinist state over how to guarantee that U.S. food can be distributed to those most in need, the State Department said.

Hungry Somalis stone storefronts 05/05/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rookie Kendell Beckwith pleased with first Bucs practice


    Bucs rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith is eight months and a week removed from November surgery to repair a torn ACL, so there was a proud sense of accomplishment in getting himself healthy enough to be on the field for the opening practice of training camp Friday.

    Bucs inside linebacker Kendell Beckwith (51) defends tight end Cameron Brate (84) during the first day of training camp. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Criticism part of the game for Bucs' Gerald McCoy, who is chasing 'ghosts'


    Who crossed the line with their criticism of Gerald McCoy?

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy jokes with teammates during the first day of training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, July 28, 2017.
  3. Police make arrest in murder of 20-year-old Tampa man


    TAMPA — A 20-year-old Tampa man has been arrested and charged with felony murder after a fatal shooting during a drug deal at a north Tampa apartment complex this week, records show.

    Alexeis Perez, 20, faces a charge of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Antonio Roman on July 26, 2017, at Tzadik Oaks, 1250 E 113th Ave., in Tampa. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Wimauma motorcyclist killed in Hillsborough County crash


    A Wimauma motorcyclist was killed Thursday night in a crash in Hillsborough County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. 3 wonderfully weird shows premiering next week: 'The Lowe Files,' 'What Would Diplo Do?' 'Comrade Detective'


    It seems like nothing is off limits on TV these days. Next week, three new shows air that I can't believe are really happening. They're all weird in their own ways, and I'm delighted. But let's be honest, at the point I'd probably watch a TV show about people coming up with TV shows. America has spoken, and we'll watch …

    Matthew, from left, Rob, and John Owen Lowe explore supernatural legends in A&E's new reality show "The Lowe Files."