Gulf of Aden Security Review - February 6, 2012
Yemen: Fighting continues in Zinjibar; military committee approaches al Qaeda for peace talks; protests and violence intensify before elections on February 21; AQAP leader reportedly mourns death of fellow official killed in U.S. airstrikes on January 31; Madad News Agency interviews Yemenis on the benefits of Ansar al Sharia in Abyan governorate
Horn of Africa: Commissioner of Isra in Galkayo assassinated; al Shabaab attacks Kenyan and TFG troops in Qoqani; Somali gunmen ambush Ethiopian troops in Beledweyne; 11 killed in TFG and al Shabaab clash in Luq in Gedo region; Kenyan gunships attack an al Shabaab convoy allegedly killing scores of militants; surveillance drone crashes at refugee camp in Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- Hours after the Yemeni government proposed a temporary ceasefire in an attempt to increase security ahead of elections, militants from Ansar al Sharia and Yemeni soldiers clashed near Zinjibar late on February 4. Four militants and one soldier were killed. A representative from Ansar al Sharia said, “They [the government] wanted to hold negotiations with Ansar al Sharia, but [we] refused.” Military committee spokesman Ali Saeed Obaid stated that the Yemeni government was seeking new ways to solve the ongoing problems with al Qaeda-linked fighters. Obaid said, “The committee is hoping that al Qaeda lays down its arms and participates in seeking change democratically, like the millions in Yemen.” Al Qaeda did not respond to the offer.
- Southern Movement supporters clashed with pro-regime demonstrators in Aden on February 3. More than 30 protesters were injured in the clash, some by gunfire. In a separate incident, one southern separatist protester and six others were wounded during a sit-in staged by the Southern Movement in Mukalla on February 5. The sit-in called for an election boycott.
- On February 2, a Yemeni jihadist posted a report that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasser al Wahayshi mourned the death of Abdul Munim al Fathani, who was allegedly killed in U.S. airstrikes in Yemen on January 31. The jihadist reports that Wahayshi “broke down in tears,” after seeing the body of al Fathani at ‘Azzan hospital in Shabwah governorate.
- Madad News Agency released the third installment of “Eye on the Event,” featuring interviews with Yemenis on the benefits provided by Ansar al Sharia in Abyan governorate. The video was released on jihadist forums on February 3. The video shows Ansar al Sharia resolving disputes and distributing food. One man is quoted as saying: “Ansar al-Shariah are our brothers, our sons, even from the same land of ours. Where did they come from?! Did they come from Israel or from another world? They are part of us and we part of them. We look at them as a people who support the religion of truth. I and many others will be supporting them and so on.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Heavily armed gunmen shot and killed commissioner of the Isra neighborhood in Galkayo Abdirahman Mohamed Abdulle on February 5. Abdulle reportedly ordered a security crackdown in the area just days before his death.
- Al Shabaab launched an attack on Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Kenyan troops in Qoqani in Lower Jubba region in southern Somalia using mortars and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). The attack resulted in an unspecified number of casualties and injuries. Heavy clashes were also reported on February 4 in Qoqani between al Shabaab militants and TFG troops backed by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and Ras Kamboni brigades. At least eight people were killed and more than 10 injured. TFG officials confirmed the attack.
- Residents reported that Ethiopian troops in Beledweyne were attacked by Somali gunmen on February 5. An unspecified number of people were killed on both sides.
- TFG official Mohamed Abdi reported clashes between TFG and al Shabaab that killed at least eight militants and three soldiers in Luq in Gedo region on February 5. Al Shabaab militants initiated the overnight attack but were then repelled by TFG forces.
- Colonel Cyrus Oguna stated that two Kenyan gunships launched an assault on an al Shabaab convoy in Dalayat village in southern Somalia on February 3, resulting in many deaths and injuries. Kenyan military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir estimated that more than 100 militants were killed in the attack. The attack came after Kenya received intelligence that al Shabaab was planning an attack on troops in Badhadhe in Lower Jubba region.
- A refugee in Badbado camp in Dharkenley district in Mogadishu reported that a suspected U.S. small unmanned aerial vehicle (SUAV), weighing approximately 2 kilograms, crashed into the camp on February 3. African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and TFG forces arrived at the camp and collected the SUAV.