MOGADISHU - Hundreds of Somali government forces and allied militia fighters deployed in the center of the former Islamist militant al Shabaab stronghold of Kismayu on Monday, an army spokesman said.

"We have sent 450 (troops) to patrol the town and settle in the police headquarters," Mohamud Farah, the spokesman for government forces in the southern Juba regions told Reuters.

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It was not immediately clear if Kenyan troops fighting under the flag of an African peacekeeping force had also entered the city center.