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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 16:03 GMT
Two shot in food riot in Malawi
Malawians queue for food
Tired and hungry Malawians often queue for days to get food
Two people have been wounded in southern Malawi after police opened fire on a crowd trying to force their way into a food depot to buy maize.

Police spokeswoman Rhoda Manjolo said officers had meant to fire in the air to disperse the crowd in Nsanje.

Local child welfare official Paul Jofilisi blamed food shortages for Wednesday's incident.

Malawi is the worst hit of six countries in southern Africa facing serious food shortages.

Government and aid agencies say up to 5 million Malawians - nearly half the population - will need urgent food aid until the next harvest in April next year.

Mr Jofilisi said the problem was a shortage of maize.

"People spend days and nights outside the depots waiting to buy maize and when it arrives [the crowd] is uncontrollable," he told Reuters news agency.

Last month, President Bingu wa Mutharika warned anyone planning to loot food aid that convoys were being protected by soldiers with orders to shoot.

He said he knew of aid convoys which had been ambushed.

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