Gulf of Aden Security Review - February 14, 2012

Yemen: Twelve al Qaeda-linked militants killed in Zinjibar; unidentified assailant dies in attempt to blow up Aden polling station; Ansar al Sharia releases video showing confessions of men executed for spying; workers’ strike at Masila oilfield, the country’s largest, brings Yemeni oil exports to a near halt

Horn of Africa: AMISOM forces seize two tactical sites near Mogadishu; AMISOM and al Shabaab clash in Mogadishu; fight erupts between militants loyal to Sheikh Said Atom and Puntland security forces in northern Somalia; Sheikh Ali Rage accuses the UK of attempting to colonize Somalia; TFG asks residents of Afgoi to vacate before military operations proceed

Yemen Security Brief

  • Twelve al Qaeda-linked militants were killed overnight in a Yemeni artillery bombardment of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate. Two Yemeni soldiers died in separate fighting in Zinjibar.[1]
  • An unidentified assailant accidentally killed himself in Aden’s Crater neighborhood. He was trying to attack a polling station, but his grenade went off prematurely while he was planting it. There were no other casualties in the incident. A security official said, “We cannot accuse anyone yet but the extremist factions of the (separatist) Southern Movement led by (Yemen Socialist Party's former leader) Ali Salem al-Baidh are trying to hamper the elections."[2]
  • On February 13, Ansar al Sharia’s media wing Madad News Agency, released videos of three alleged spies that were executed the day before. In the videos, the men confess to having had a role in placing electronic chips on Islamist militants’ vehicles, which allowed the U.S. to successfully carry out drone strikes against them. The video also shows a member of Ansar al Sharia reciting their death sentences, while laying out the charges against them.[3]
  • Striking workers of the state-owned PetroMasila Company have caused the cessation of production and export of oil from the Masila oilfield, the largest in the country. The workers went on strike, demanding better pay, on February 9. Yemen’s oil exports have been brought nearly to a complete halt; its Ma’rib pipeline was shut down in November due to constant attacks, which forced the Aden refinery plant to stop operations. The al Shihr terminal in Hadramawt, a port for exports to the east, has also been temporarily shut down.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops seized two tactical locations outside of Mogadishu. The troops captured al Janale Hill, which overlooks the southern routes to the Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport. They also took control of Maslah building, which is situated on the road to Afgoi, an al Shabaab stronghold.[5]
  • Clashes between AMISOM forces and al Shabaab militants killed one civilian and injured three others in Dharkenley district in Mogadishu. Fighting continued as AMISOM troops moved towards al Shabaab-held Elasha Biyaha, approximately 10 miles from Mogadishu.[6]
  • Puntland security forces clashed with militants loyal to Sheikh Mohamed Said Atom in the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia. Witnesses reported that Atom’s fighters attacked a Puntland base in Sugare, about 40 kilometers west of Boosaaso. Seventeen Puntland soldiers were reportedly killed in the attack.[7]
  • Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage said that the “London conference is another attempt by the UK to colonise [sic] Somalia,” in a message released on February 13. British Prime Minister David Cameron will head the conference, scheduled for February 23.[8]
  • Following reports that AMISOM is planning to move in on Afgoi, Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Commander General Abdikarin Yussuf Aden stated that TFG wants residents to vacate Afgoi as soon as possible. Aden said, “On behalf of the TFG, I am sending regards to the [Afgoi] residents and we request that they shift from Afgoi district as soon as possible due to TFG’s intended military operations. We want the residents to remain safe and avoid any harm to them.”[9]


[1] Ahmed al Haj, “Yemen Troops Kill 12 al-Qaida Militants in South,” AP, February 14, 2012. Available: http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2012/02/14/yemen_troops_kill_12_al_qaida_militants_in_south/
[2] Fawaz al Haidari, “Man Killed Planting Bomb in Yemen Polling Booth,” AFP, February 14, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gSMIZ2wKyUBm2Q33F_SLC7TzAylA?docId=CNG.f403ea8aad2faad073236239e9b0c0df.961
[3] “Madad News Agency Shows Spies’ Confessions in Video,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 13, 2012. Available at SITE.
[4] Mohammed Ghobari and Nour Merza, “Strike Action Stops Yemen Oil Exports,” Reuters, February 14, 2012. Available: http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL5E8DE37F20120214
[5] “AMISOM Captures More Ground Beyond Mogadishu,” AMISOM Force HQ, February 14, 2012. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/?p=1022
[6] “1 Dead, 3 Injured in Mogadishu Heavy Fighting,” Shabelle Media Network, February 14, 2012. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=15339
[7] “17 Puntland Soldiers Killed in Northern Somalia Battle,” Shabelle Media Network, February 14, 2012. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=15322
[8] “UK Trying to ‘Colonize Somalia,’ Say Rebels,” AFP, February 14, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jU-2faXpw75bwPw1dz4WD-vXpUrw?docId=CNG.107187bf1d9600ec3e3ca2c05d5be856.01
[9] Galad Ali Ismail, “TFG Asks Afgoye Residents to Vacate Area,” Somalia Report, February 13, 2012. Available: http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/2778