MOGADISHU, (AFP) — A Somali soldier opened fire on a crowd in Mogadishu on Monday, killing at least 17 civilians and injuring scores, hospital sources and witnesses said.
The soldier triggered a high-calibre anti-aircraft gun mounted on top of a truck, and a hail of bullets ripped into the crowd after it jammed, some witnesses said.
Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Madina hospital in southern Mogadishu, said said 56 people were also wounded.
“There was a disaster in Mogadishu today. We have received around 56 injured people, 12 dead bodies and five others died of their injuries at the hospital,” Yusuf told reporters.
Defence Minister Abdihakin Mohamed Fiqi promised government assistance to the wounded and said the perpetrator would be brought to justice.
“On behalf of the Somali government, the president, his prime minister and the speaker, we are very sorry about the sad incident..” Fiqi said at the hospital.
“We will help the wounded and promise to bring those behind the brutal killing to justice,” he added.
However, a security official, Mohamed Ali, said authorities were investigating reports from some witnesses that the soldier set off the gun by accident.
“We are still investigating how things happened and we cannot say if the soldier accidently fired the machine gun or deliberately killed the civilians,” Ali told AFP.