Islamic militants controlling much of southern Somalia have closed a radio station for broadcasting love songs.

An Islamic official, Sheikh Mohamed Mohamoud Abdirahman, said Radio Jowhar was closed because it aired the banned music.

Radio Jowhar is the only FM radio station in the town.

The Islamic official said anyone violating the music ban could be arrested, fined and flogged.

Some Johwhar residents called the move the beginning of censorship against free media.

Islamists control the Somali capital of Mogadishu and much of the country's south and have begun enforcing strict Islamic rule on the region.

Somalia's weak interim government is based in the town of Baidoa. The country has not had a national army or an effective central authority since the fall of the last government more than 15 years ago.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.