Islamist militia in Somalia are said to be closing in on a warlord stronghold 90 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu. The Union of Islamic Courts is now in control of Mogadishu, after a three month battle which has cost the lives of at least 350 people. Many of the secular warlords, who controlled Somalia after the fall of the government in 1991, are said to have fled to the town of Jowahr.
A spokesman for the warlord coalition said any attempt to attack the town by Islamic fighters would meet with stiff resistance.
The Islamic movement’s leader, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, has said the struggle will continue until an Islamic state is established but added that a Taliban-style regime would not be imposed.
The US has refused to discuss claims that it bankrolls the warlords. But President Bush says the situation is being monitored, due to fears that an Islamic regime could become a safe haven for Al Qaeda militants.