Gulf of Aden Security Review - March 21, 2012
Yemen: Taiz activists demand investigation for slain American; Yemeni interior ministry arrests at least four Somalis for fighting with Ansar al Sharia; terrorist elements burn three busses in Aden; unknown gunmen fire on a car belonging to a mine disarmament project in Hadramawt
Horn of Africa: British hostage freed by Somalia pirates; car bomb injures at least one person in Mogadishu; TFG and Ras Kamboni Brigades retake village from al Shabaab; heavy fighting between TFG backed by Ethiopians and al Shabaab militants in Baidoa; Kenyan planes bomb al Shabaab training camps in Lower Jubba; al Shabaab warns civilians in Mogadishu to stay away from TFG and AMISOM installations; TFG detains suspects in mortar attacks; al Shabaab posts five communiqués on jihadist forums
Yemen Security Brief
- Hundreds of Yemeni activists marched in Taiz demanding justice for Joel Shrum, a U.S. citizen who was gunned down on March 18. Activists and lawyers reportedly met with the Taiz police chief to demand an investigation. Some activists said they would stage a sit-in outside the police chief’s headquarters until an arrest is made.
- The Yemeni interior ministry reported that at least four Somalis have been arrested on the road to Lahij for fighting with Ansar al Sharia in Abyan on March 20. The suspects have allegedly been transferred to the city of Aden.
- Three buses were burned by terrorist elements in Mualla district in Aden overnight according to the Yemeni interior ministry. One of the buses belonged to the Sheraton hotel. No injuries have been reported.
- On March 20, unknown gunmen riding in three cars reportedly fired on a car belonging to a mine disarmament project on al Qatan road in Hadramawt governorate. Four people were injured.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Judith Tebbutt, a British tourist kidnapped in Kenya by Somali pirates last September, was freed after six months of captivity. Somali pirates had entered her room at the Kiwayu Safar Village resort, 30 miles north of Lamu, killing her husband and taking her. A ransom was paid to the pirates to free her, but no figure was given.
- A car bomb exploded in Mogadishu, wounding at least one Somali soldier. The blast occurred on Makka al Mukarrama Road near the presidential palace, a street frequented by Somali officials.
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers, backed by Ras Kamboni Brigades, retook Dif village from al Shabaab militants, who briefly seized the village on March 20. The militants withdrew without putting up a fight.
- Clashes broke out between TFG troops backed by Ethiopians and al Shabaab overnight on the outskirts of Baidoa. Al Shabaab militants attacked a joint TFG-Ethiopian base in Isha Village, just east of Baidoa. The number of casualties was unknown.
- Local eyewitnesses reported that three Kenyan warplanes bombed al Shabaab training camps overnight in Lower Jubba region. The number of casualties was not reported, and the airstrike has not been independently verified.
- Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage warned civilians in Mogadishu to stay away from TFG and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) buildings and bases: “We (are) sending a warning message to all Somalis not to go close to the TFG and AMSIOM [sic] military bases to avoid a significant loss of lives as a result of bloody attacks.”
- TFG spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman announced that security forces have detained several people suspected of involvement in the recent mortar attacks targeting the presidential palace.
- Al Shabaab posted five communiqués on jihadist forums, two on March 17 and three on March 19, claiming responsibility for attacks. One of the communiqués details the bombing of Day Tobako village in Middle Jubba on March 18. Another concerns an attack on March 17 by al Shabaab on a checkpoint in Laq village, near Boosaaso, causing a number of casualties. Five “apostate” soldiers were killed on March 17 near KM-4 junction in Mogadishu in an explosion. On March 16, there were protests in Lower Shabelle against the alleged desecration of the Qur’an by TFG soldiers in Mogadishu; six pictures were included with this particular communiqué. Finally, on March 15, al Shabaab detonated a roadside bomb in Mogadishu, killing “a number” of Burundian soldiers, while a roadside bomb in another area of the city, killing and wounding several “apostates.”