Gulf of Aden Security Review - February 3, 2012

Yemen: Seven kidnapped hostages released; al Houthis reportedly regain control over areas in northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases three communiqués claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing in Galkayo, an attack in Beledweyne, and the temporary seizure of a neighborhood in Mogadishu; landmine blast targets Kenyan military vehicle in Mandera, Kenya near the Somali border; UN declares famine in Somalia over; al Shabaab reportedly bolstering forces in Afmadow

Yemen Security Brief

  • Four UN aid workers along with their two Yemeni drivers have finally been released after they were kidnapped on January 31 in Mahwit. UN emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos said seven people had been released, but it is unclear whether the seventh individual was employed by the UN or another non-governmental organization. Amos added that all were safe and in Sana’a. In return, the tribesmen secured the release of a prisoner.[1]
  • Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra reported that the al Houthis have regained control over certain areas, particularly in Sa’ada governorate, in northern Yemen: “What we have also seen is a remarkable come back [sic] of the Houthis. They have been reasserting their influence in different parts. The Houthis are taking care of the area, manning checkpoints."[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab released a communiqué on jihadist forums on February 2 claiming responsibility for the suicide bombing targeting Colonel Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdid, former Somali warlord, in Galkayo on January 31. In two separate communiqués also released on February 2, al Shabaab claimed responsibility for destroying an Ethiopian military vehicle in Beledweyne on January 31. Finally, al Shabaab claimed it took over and controlled Jazira district of Mogadishu for four hours.[3]
  • Eyewitnesses reported a landmine blast targeting a Kenyan military vehicle carrying soldiers went off in Mandera, Kenya near the Somali border on February 2. An unidentified number of people were killed and injured. Over 20 suspects were reportedly arrested following the attack.[4]
  • The UN stated that the famine in Somalia is now over. The UN added that “2.3 million people remain in a food crisis situation in Somalia and still need assistance.” The famine was originally declared in July 2011 after a drought spread across the region.[5]
  • Following al Shabaab’s forced evacuation from Badhadhe, local witnesses reported al Shabaab moving towards Afmadow in Lower Jubba region. An al Shabaab fighter told Somalia Report that Afmadow is seen as a line of defense for Kismayo, a key al Shabaab-held port city. In addition, Raxanrareeb reported that al Shabaab vacated the town of Kudha after hearing that Kenyan forces and Ras Kamboni brigades were advancing towards the town.[6]


[1] “Seven Aid Workers in Yemen Freed, U.N. Says,” Reuters, February 2, 2012. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/02/us-yemen-released-idUSTRE8111V620120202
[2] “Yemen Live Blog,” Al Jazeera, February 3, 2012. Available: http://blogs.aljazeera.com/liveblog/yemen-feb-3-2012-1658
[3] “Shabaab Claims Suicide Bombing in Mudug, Other Attacks,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 2, 2012. Available at SITE.
[4] “Landmine Blast Strikes at Kenyan Truck in Madera Town,” Shabelle Media Network, February 2, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=14992
[5] “UN Declares Somalia’s Famine Over, But Says Million in East Africa Still in Crisis,” AP, February 3, 2012. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/un-downgrades-somalias-famine-but-says-millions-across-east-africa-still-in-crisis-situation/2012/02/03/gIQANMIBmQ_story.html
[6] “Al-Shabaab Reinforce Afmadow to Defend Kismayo,” Somalia Report, February 2, 2012. Available: http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/2683
“Al Shabaab Vacates Kudhaa Town in Lower Jubba Region,” Raxanreeb, February 3, 2012. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/