In Somalia, militant Islamists have captured a key town from forces that back the country’s fragile government.
Witnesses say the insurgent group al-Shabab seized the town of Jowhar Sunday after attacking a pro-government Islamist militia.
Reports from the area say at least three people died in the fighting, and that armed al-Shabab fighters are now patrolling the streets.
Jowhar is 90 kilometers north of the capital, Mogadishu, where the government controls only select areas after weeks of heavy fighting.
Earlier Sunday, Somali officials said a key Islamist militia leader has defected to the government, a major boost for the fragile state.
Authorities say Sheikh Yusuf Indahaadde left the insurgents on Saturday.
The government still faces a tough battle against al-Shabab and other insurgent groups striving to establish an Islamic state.
Al-Shabab and its allies control most of southern and central Somalia after a nearly two and a half year insurgency.
Somalia has not had a stable central government since 1991.
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