Gulf of Aden Security Review - April 12, 2012

Yemen: Fighting continues in Lawder and spreads to Mudia in Abyan governorate; Yemeni defense ministry notes foreign al Qaeda-linked militants killed in Lawder clashes; five Yemeni soldiers released by Ansar al Sharia; Madad News Agency releases its eighth installment of “Eyes on the Event,” and interviews Jaar residents on the security situation

Horn of Africa: Somali PM says that al Shabaab is fleeing into the northern Galgala Mountains; Ahlu Sunna repels al Shabaab assault in Elbur; al Shabaab releases five communiqués detailing activities; Ahlu Sunna calls for humanitarian aid for displaced families in Galgudud region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Fighting continued for the fourth day near Lawder and extended east towards Mudia in Abyan governorate. The four-day death toll has reportedly reached 177. Six militants were allegedly killed when an airstrike hit a tank that was captured on April 11. A local source reported that armed tribesmen attacked a vehicle carrying al Qaeda-linked militants near Mudia. Both sides exchanged machine gun fire killing one militant and one tribesman. Residents added that the army fired artillery shells at suspected militant positions on the outskirts of Lawder. Another resident reported that the militants have been randomly shelling Lawder and wounded three civilians.[1]
  • The Yemeni defense ministry reported, “A number of foreign terrorist leaders from Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were killed when the army with support from locals including popular committees targeted al-Qaida positions and fighters in the Lawder town.” The statement mentioned that Daradish Tahir and Imad al Manshabi were killed in the attacks.[2]
  • Ansar al Sharia reportedly released five Yemeni soldiers on April 11. In a statement, Ansar al Sharia claimed that the prisoners were captured in Ma’rib on April 10.[3]
  • Madad News Agency, Ansar al Sharia’s media wing, released its eighth video in the “Eye on the Event” series on jihadist forums on April 11. In the video, Madad reporters interview Jaar resident on the security situation. One resident notes that Ansar al Sharia has enforced the closing of shops during prayer times. Another resident states, “Before it was barbarism; people lived like monsters in a jungle and the big ate the small. Now, we are all equal. No one harms anyone, and the wealthy don’t harm the poor...”[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said that militant leaders and fighters of al Shabaab are fleeing into the Galgala Mountains of Puntland in an interview with the Associated Press on April 11. This is due, he said, to the increasing pressure the group is feeling from the combined armies of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the Ethiopian military. Ali believes that 2012 will prove to be a peaceful year for Somalia: “We already succeeded. We liberated the capital and many other towns from al-Shabab. After all Mogadishu is safe and secure.” Puntland’s president, Abdirahman Farole, said that al Shabaab is moving north hoping to strengthen ties with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a joint Ethiopian and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a base in Elbur in Galgudud region on the night of April 10. Hussein Hassan Farah, Ahlu Sunna’s commander in central Somalia, announced that his militia had repelled the assault, killing three militants and wounding dozens more.[6]
  • Al Shabaab posted five communiqués on jihadist forums on April 10. The group attacked and seized El Barde in Bay region on April 4 and claimed to have killed more than 30 TFG soldiers and administrative officials. Al Shabaab militants attacked Hosingow in Lower Jubba on April 4; militants shot down a Kenyan helicopter and claimed to have killed more than 100 Kenyan soldiers during the battle. On the same day, al Shabaab fighters ambushed an Ethiopian convoy outside of Bardale in Bay region, destroying two military vehicles and causing dozens of casualties. The group also claimed to have destroyed the house of a TFG official in the Harwa neighborhood of Mogadishu, although it admitted in the communiqué that it was unsure whether or not he was in the house at the time. Finally, on April 6, al Shabaab ambushed Ethiopian soldiers in Bay region in between the towns of Qansax Dhere and Kortin, burning an Ethiopian military vehicle.[7] 
  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a called for immediate humanitarian aid for displaced families in Galgudud region, which has seen fierce fighting between Ahlu Sunna and al Shabaab. The group urged families to return to their homes, which would make the dispensation of aid easier.[8]   

[1] “Toll Hits 177 in South Yemen Battle with Qaeda,” AFP, April 12, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g_Y2FttSk7NtjrqUXcwbgtTCy5dg?docId=CNG.370569ca78de7c929bbfb49125a5efa2.461
“At Least 8 Militants Reported Killed in Yemen,” Reuters, April 12, 2012. Available: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/39125/World/Region/At-least--militants-reported-killed-in-Yemen-viole.aspx
[2] “Foreign Qaida Leaders Killed in Continuous Battles in South Yemen,” Yemen Post, April 11, 2012. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=5087&MainCat=3
[3] “Al-Qaeda Releases Five Captured Soldiers in Yemen,” Yemen Post, April 11, 2012. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=5077&MainCat=3
[4] “Waqar Residents Speak to Madad News about Ansar al-Shariah, Security,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 11, 2012. Available at SITE.
[5] Abdi Guled, “AP Interview: Somalia PM Says Fighters Fleeing North,” AP, April 11, 2012. Available: http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2012/04/11/ap_interview_somalia_pm_says_fighters_flee_north “Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamists Move North into Yemen,” BBC, April 11, 2012. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17674996
[6] “Ahlu Sunna Claims Victory over al Shabaab in South and Central Somalia,” Radio Bar-Kulan, April 11, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/04/11/ahlu-sunna-claims-victory-over-al-shabaab-in-south-and-central-somalia
[7] “Shabaab Claims Downing Kenyan Aircraft, Controlling District,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 11, 2012. Available at SITE.
[8] “Ahlu Sunna Calls for Humanitarian Aid for Displaced Families in Galgudud Region,” Radio Bar-Kulan, April 12, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/04/12/ahlu-sunna-calls-for-humanitarian-aid-for-displaced-families-in-galgadud-region/