Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Sunday, 22 November 2009

Somali militants al-Shabab 'seize southern town'

By Mohamed Mohamed
BBC Somali


The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab says it has taken control of the southern town of Afmadow without any resistance from rival militants.

The town, in Lower Juba region, had been controlled by rival group Hisbul-Islam, but its members are reported to have withdrawn without a fight.

The two militant groups have been fighting each other for months for control of this region.

Al-Shabab wants a strict version of Sharia law imposed around the country.

The situation in the southern town is reported to be tense.

Witnesses told the BBC they had seen heavily armed al-Shabab fighters patrolling the town centre in trucks.

They say a large number of people have fled their homes in fear of violence.

Reports say a non-governmental organisation has shut its offices and stopped all essential work in the area. Some of its staff have left the town.

Al-Shabab issued a statement saying it had taken the town from Hisbul-Islam without a fight.

On Saturday, at least eight people died and many more were injured after clashes between Hisbul-Islam and al-Shabab on the outskirts of the town.

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