Key town captured by Islamist Somali militants

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Eyewitness reports say that Islamist insurgents in Somalia have captured the town of Jowhar, a strategically important city 90 kilometres north of the country's capital of Mogadishu.

Location of Jowhar (Giohar) in red.

According to the witness reports the Al-Shabaab rebels took the town after two hours of fighting on Sunday. After overtaking the city, the militants released prisoners from the city jail. At least three civilians were killed by the violence. A resident told Reuters that seven people died in the fighting.

The United Nations Security Council has expressed "concern at the loss of life and the worsening humanitarian situation arising out of the renewed fighting".

Meanwhile, in Mogadishu, fighting between government forces and Al-Shabaab has left at least 68 people dead in the past two days.

The Somali government has started to lose ground against Al-Shabaab in the past few weeks. Currently, it does not control much area outside of the capital which is reinforced by African Union troops.