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Hundreds turn out for second day of food protests in Somalia
Somali's demonstrate against high food prices, Monday, May 5, 2008 in the capital Mogadishu. Troops opened fire and killed at least two people among tens of thousands of people rioting over high ood prices in Somalia's capital Monday, a doctor and witnesses said. - photo by Associated Press
    MOGADISHU, Somalia — Hundreds of youths in Somalia’s capital lobbed stones at shops and cars and set tires ablaze Tuesday in a second day of violence over soaring food prices.
    Besides rising prices, the protests have been driven by shopkeepers’ refusal to accept some bank notes, apparently out of concern over counterfeiters. On Tuesday, shop owners met and agreed to begin accepting the notes again.
    Tuesday’s unrest was not as widespread as the day before, when tens of thousands took to the streets in rioting that spread to all 13 districts of the capital. Troops fired into the crowds on Monday, killing two people.
    On Tuesday, the protests were confined to the city’s Dharkenley and Wadajir neighborhoods. But shops across the city remained shuttered, with traders fearing the riot could spread and prompt looting.
    ‘‘Down with those printing the fake money!’’ the young men yelled, denouncing the growing number of counterfeiters who have contributed to escalating prices. ‘‘Down with opportunists!’’
    The Mogadishu Traders’ Union said it decided Tuesday to again accept the old 1,000-shilling notes and ordered its private security units to enforce that at the city’s main Bakara market.
    ‘‘We, the big traders, have already decided to accept the old note and today we want to tell other businesses also to accept the decision,’’ said Abas Mohamed Duale, deputy chairman of the union.
    Protests and riots over rising food prices have recently hit other nations, including Haiti, Egypt, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. The price of rice and other staples has risen more than 40 percent since mid-2007.
    The Asian Development Bank said Monday that a billion poor people in Asia need food aid to help cope with the skyrocketing prices.
    Soaring fuel prices, growing demand from the burgeoning middle classes in India and China and poor weather have contributed to the jump in food prices worldwide, economists say. Africa has been particularly hard-hit.
    In Mogadishu, the price of corn meal has more than doubled since January. Rice has risen during the same period from $26 to $47.50 for a 110-pound sack.
    The cost of food has also been driven up by the plummeting Somali shilling, which has lost nearly half its value against the U.S. dollar this year because of growing insecurity and a market clogged with millions of counterfeit notes. The shilling has tumbled from about 17,000 to 30,000 per $1.
    Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed said Monday that he planned to create a new currency in a bid to fight against counterfeiters who helped spark massive inflation in the country. Ahmed — speaking in Paris, where he met with top French officials — did not directly respond to a question about the current situation in the Somali capital, saying only ‘‘the country has been in chaos, in anarchy for a long time.’’
    He said counterfeiters have long flourished in the lawless country flooding it with ‘‘an incalculable number of fake bills.’’
    ‘‘That led us to the kinds of financial and economic problems we’re seeing,’’ Ahmed said. ‘‘But today we are determined to fight that and to create ... a new currency.’’
    Somalia has been without a functioning government since the 1991 overthrow of dictator Siad Barre.
    Over the past year, thousands of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced from homes in fighting pitting Islamist insurgents against a U.N-sponsored transitional government supported by troops from neighboring Ethiopia.
    The U.N. food security unit warned last week that half of Somalia’s population of 7 million faces famine. It blamed an enduring drought as well as soaring food prices.

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