Gulf of Aden Security Review - March 5, 2012

Yemen: Fighting in Abyan governorates kills at least 100 Yemeni soldiers and 25 al Qaeda-linked militants; suicide car bombings kill at least seven soldiers and wound 12 in Zinjibar; Yemeni military plane explodes under mysterious circumstances; Ansar al Sharia attacks American security team training Yemeni troops; Shibam security chief assassinated in al Mukalla

Horn of Africa: Two TFG soldiers shot and killed by armed men in Mogadishu; gunmen assassinate a journalist in central Somalia; al Shabaab reportedly attacks AMISOM-TFG base in Mogadishu; clashes between Puntland security forces and al Shabaab militants kill at least nine; would-be suicide bomber prematurely detonates car near AMISOM base in Mogadishu; al Shabaab captures Dif village in Lower Jubba; eight al Shabaab militants surrender to TFG troops in Gedo region; al Shabaab claims its “anti-aircraft battalion” targeted Somali defense minister’s helicopter

Yemen Security Brief

  • At least 100 soldiers and 25 al Qaeda-linked militants were killed in intense fighting in Abyan governorate on March 4. The combat began with a surprise militant attack on an army base in Kod, south of Abyan’s capital, Zinjibar, and then spread to other military posts in the area. At least 55 soldiers were taken captive and paraded through the streets of Jaar, a town under the control of Ansar al Sharia. The Islamist militants were able to capture armored vehicles, artillery pieces, assault rifles and rockets, which they later turned on Yemeni soldiers.[1]
  • At least seven Yemeni soldiers were killed and 12 wounded in coordinated suicide car bombings on March 4. One explosive-laden vehicle was detonated at a military position at the western entrance of Zinjibar and another at a military position at the city’s southern entrance. Ansar al Sharia was blamed for the attacks.[2]
  • A Yemeni military plane exploded under mysterious circumstances at the Daylami air force base on March 4. The plane was grounded at the time and no casualties were reported.[3]
  • Ansar al Sharia claimed responsibility for attacking an American security team that was helping to train Yemeni soldiers in Aden governorate. The militant group announced that it had killed a “C.I.A. officer”, but the Pentagon denied these claims, stating that, while there was an attack on March 1, no U.S. personnel sustained casualties.[4]
  • Unknown assailants assassinated Maj. Shaef al Nahmi, the acting security chief of Shibam, in Hadramawt governorate. While getting out of his car outside of security headquarters in al Mukalla, Hadramawt’s capital, he was fired upon by gunmen. Yemeni defense sources blamed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) for the March 3 assassination.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Two Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers were reportedly killed by unknown gunmen in Mogadishu’s Yaqshid district overnight. The assailants managed to escape.[6]
  • Unidentified gunmen reportedly shot and killed journalist Ali Ahmed Abdi while he was on his way home in Garsoor village in central Somalia on March 4. Abdi was shot at least three times in the head. He is the fouth journalist killed in the last four months.[7]
  • Witnesses reported that al Shabaab launched an attack on a joint African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and TFG base in Mogadishu’s Karan district. Medics said that several civilians have been injured by heavy gunfire and shelling.[8]
  • Clashes between Puntland security forces and al Shabaab militants killed at least nine in Boosaaso overnight on March 2. Al Shabaab allegedly attacked a checkpoint manned by Puntland soldiers. Early on March 3, Puntland soldiers retaliated and launched an attack on al Shabaab in Baliqadar, 40 kilometers east of Boosaaso. Al Shabaab's military spokesman Abdi Aziz Abu Mus'ab reported that they destroyed three armed vehicles using landmines.[9]
  • On March 3, a would-be suicide bomber jumped out of his vehicle just before the bomb detonated prematurely in Mogadishu near an AMISOM base. Colonel Nur Hayr from Hodan district reported that the suspect is now being questioned.[10]
  • Witnesses said that al Shabaab managed to take over Dif village in Lower Jubba region on March 3.[11]
  • Farhan Ali Mohamed, a TFG officer, confirmed that eight al Shabaab militants surrendered to TFG troops in Garbaharey in Gedo region on March 3.[12]
  • Al Shabaab released a message on February 29 claiming its “anti-aircraft battalion” targeted two helicopters carrying defense minister Hussein Arab Issa over Lafole in Lower Shabelle region. Al Shabaab reported that the helicopters escaped with unknown amounts of damage.[13]   


[1] Ahmed Al-Haj, “139 Dead in Yemen Fighting; 55 Troops Held Captive,” AP, March 5, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iiR8QpaKbA93L73tQuJESV6wE0fQ?docId=d7073a057ad6421c819a311cfb4351a8
“100 Yemen Soldiers Killed in Clashes with Suspected al-Qaeda Gunmen,” AFP, March 5, 2012. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/9123694/100-Yemen-soldiers-killed-in-clashes-with-suspected-al-Qaeda-gunmen.html
[2] Mohammed Mukhashaf, “Yemen Suicide Attack Kills 7 Soldiers: Officials,” Reuters, March 4, 2012. Available: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Mar-04/165440-5-yemen-soldiers-killed-in-qaeda-assault-on-army-posts.ashx#axzz1oFkK2Zra
[4] “Yemen: American Trainers Attacked,” Reuters, March 3, 2012. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/03/world/middleeast/yemen-american-trainers-attacked.html
[5] “Senior Security Official Assassinated in Southeastern Yemen,” Yemen Post, March 4, 2012. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4842&MainCat=3
[6] “Two Soldiers Killed in Somalia Capital, Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, March 5, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=15892
[7] “Somalia: Unidentified Gunmen Kill 4th Journalist in Last Four Months,” AP, March 5, 2012. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/somalia-unidentified-gunmen-kill-4th-journalist-in-4-months/2012/03/05/gIQAT2N7rR_story.html
[8] “Al-Shabab Raids AU, TFG Bases in Mogadishu,” Mareeg Online, March 4, 2012. Available: http://www.mareeg.com/fidsan.php?Al-shabab-raids-AU,-TFG-bases-in-Mogadishu-&sid=23280&tirsan=3
[9] Abdiqani Hassan, “Rebel, Army Clashes Kill Nine in Somalia’s Puntland,” Reuters, March 3, 2012. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/03/somalia-conflict-idUSL5E8E308T20120303
[10] Abdiqani Hassan, “Rebel, Army Clashes Kill Nine in Somalia’s Puntland,” Reuters, March 3, 2012. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/03/somalia-conflict-idUSL5E8E308T20120303
[11] “Al-Shabab Takes Over a Village in Somalia after Attack,” Shabelle Media Network, March 4, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=15871
[12] “Somalia: 8 Al-Shabaab Fighters Surrender to TFG Troops in Gedo Region,” Mareeg Online, March 4, 2012. Available: http://www.mareeg.com/fidsan.php?somalia:8-Al-Shabaab-fighters-surrender--to-TFG-troops-in-Gedo-region&sid=23278&tirsan=3
[13] “Shabaab Claims Targeting Somali Defense Minister’s Helicopter,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 2, 2012. Available at SITE.