Somalia's Jowhar town falls to Amisom - reports

Members of the Al-Shabaab standing on after giving themselves up to forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in Garsale, some 10km from the town of Jowhar, on September 22, 2012. Photo |   AFP

African Union forces (Amisom) together with Somali government troops have captured the strategic town of Jowhar, reports streaming out Sunday morning said.

Jowhar, which is 90 km north of Mogadishu, is the capital of the Middle Shabelle region. It is the second regional capital lost by Al-Shabaab in just over two months following the fall of Kismayu town, 500 km south of Mogadishu, to Amisom troops and allied militias.

The reports added that Al-Shabaab militants who have been controlling the town since May 2009 abandoned their positions in the early hours of Sunday.

The pro-government forces that entered the town, according to residents, established bases at Hantiwadag neighbourhood, gradually moving to the town centre where the administrative offices are located.

“Curious people are at roadsides to watch at the operation of the arriving troops,” said a resident. He added that some people entered the police station and looted properties left behind by the departing Al-Shabaab militants.

A section of the allied forces reportedly moved on to capture the town of Mahaday, 35 km to the north.

The town of Jowhar hosted the Transitional Federal Government in 2005 when clan-based warlords prevented former President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed from establishing a base in Mogadishu following the formation of the Transitional Federal Government in Nairobi, Kenya in 2004.

Notorious district

Meanwhile, one person died and four others were wounded when a movie house known as 'Shineemo Muqdisho' (Mogadishu Cinema) in Wadajir district in the Somali capital was attacked with a grenade on Saturday evening.

Eyewitness confirmed that an unidentified man approached the main entrance of the cinema and hurled the grenade. He then fled the scene.

The explosion occurred just after the end of a screening of an English Premier League game that was watched by sports fans.

It was the first attack on Shineemo Muqdisho, which has operated incessantly throughout more than two decades of chaos. It is arguably the only remaining of dozens of movie houses the city had prior to the civil war.

Wadajir district has recently become notorious for assassinations, especially of journalists in Mogadishu.

So far, there has been no report on the attack or the likely assailant from the police and from the district authority.

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