Children and teenagers would gather after
- Hezb al-Islam officials ordered us to close our video game centres so today we're closed. We don't have a choice - said Ali Hidig, a game centre owner in Elashabiyaha, a village hosting refugees on the ouskirts of Mogadishu.
- Young boys used to like coming here for entertainment after school but it looks like this is now a thing of the past - he told AFP.
The disappointment was deep among teenage boys in the area, where movies and sports are also banned.
- We used to watch movies. They were banned. Now the PlayStations we had fun with are also banned. This country is not for young people like me - said Abdirahman Hirsi, a 19-year-old from Lafole town.
- They have basically banned everything that is fun, so we feel increasingly bored - said another boy.
Abdi Moge, an older resident in the village, argued that there were few alternatives to occupy young people other than joining an armed group.- Who knows what else the children are going to do now. It's not as if there was proper education for them. The more they are prevented from playing, the more likely they are to join the fighting - he said.
Hezb al-Islam and their insurgency comrades from the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab group are implementing a very strict form of Sharia (Islamic law) in the areas they control.
They have basically banned everything that is fun.The Hezb al-Islam statement did not make clear what forms of punishment would be reserved for diehard gamers caught flouting the ban. However, in recent months across Somalia, people found dancing to traditional songs have been flogged, men guilty of trimming their beards arrested and youth playing football in shorts reprimanded by religious police units.Satellite television is also banned in many areas and there are no cinemas left in central and southern Somalia, which are under Islamist control.Rights groups have accused all sides involved of recruiting children in the fighting that has rocked the country since the 1991 ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre.Somalia Islamist group bans video games