Fighters enforcing a strict form of sharia law have been slowly advancing on the city, raising the stakes in their two-year rebellion and undermining fragile U.N.-brokered peace talks to end 17 years of chaos in the Horn of Africa nation.
Last month, they stoned to death a young woman accused of adultery in the rebel-controlled southern port of Kismayu.
Islamist spokesman Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow said those arrested had been warned several times against dancing.
"We arrested 25 women and seven men who were dancing near Balad (town). We released them after whipping them. We warned them many times, but they wouldn't listen," he told Reuters. More...