MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Six Somalis were shot dead by a soldier as families scrambled for food aid in the Somali capital on Thursday, witnesses said.
Families had stood in line for hours before finally rushing guards and carrying off food aid, said witness Sharif Haji Hassan. He said the guards tried to beat them back with rifle butts but then opened fire. Some shot into the air but one soldier fired into the crowd, he said.
"Then some soldiers used butts to beat people and others were opening fire at refugees and in the air. I saw five dead bodies," he said. "There was a food distribution and some refugees run off with packages and small sacks of food. There was too much blood on the sand, like a slaughterhouse," he said.
Another witness said one of the injured later bled to death. Abdi Mire Nur said the old woman was being taken to hospital when she died.
Waberi district commissioner Ahmed Meyre Makaran said he could only confirm one death and three injuries.
"The incident happened at a food aid distributions center after one of the soldiers guarding the food accidentally fired bullets at refugees," he said. "We are apologetic about what happened there."
There have been several deadly shootings in the Somali capital as starving families fight over food aid. Six areas in southern Somalia are suffering from famine. The effects of a devastating drought have been exacerbated by Somalia's 20-year-old civil war.