Gulf of Aden Security Review - May 21, 2012
Yemen: Suicide attack in Sana’a kills over 90 people; new military appointments made; three American Coast Guard trainers attacked in al Hudaydah; government continues offensive to retake Zinjibar; jihadist posts eulogy for Somali jihadist killed in U.S. drone strike in Yemen; former President Saleh admitted to a military hospital
Horn of Africa: Twin explosions and grenade attacks in Mogadishu; four Kenyan soldiers wounded in landmine blast in Mandera, Kenya TFG, KDF clash with al Shabaab in Lower Jubba; al Shabaab demands local tribe’s economic, military, and moral support in Lower Shabelle; roadmap summit begins in Addis Ababa; TFG infighting kills two soldiers in Beledweyne
Yemen Security Brief
- A suicide bombing at a rehearsal for a military parade in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, killed over 90 people. The blast occurred in al Sab’een Square, near the presidential palace, and may have targeted Yemen’s Minister of Defense, Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed. The bomber was disguised as a soldier. A man claiming to speak for Ansar al Sharia claimed responsibility in a telephone call to Reuters. The casualties included members of the Central Security Forces, the police academy, and the war college. The government announced that it was going to conduct an investigation into the attack immediately.
- Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced new military appointments. He replaced the commander of the Central Security Forces (CSF), Major General Abdul Malik al Tayeb, with Major General Fadhl Yahya bin Naji al Qawsi. The nephew of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yahya, remains the chief of staff of the CSF. Saleh’s nephew, Amar Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, was replaced as the deputy director of Yemen’s National Security Bureau, which coordinates the country’s intelligence services. A new commander and chief of staff of Yemen’s Rescue Police Forces (al Najdah) were also appointed.
- Three United States Coast Guard trainers were attacked in the port city of al Hudaydah on May 20. Unidentified gunmen pulled up to the trainers’ car and opened fire. One of the Americans was wounded in the attack. A security official reported that one of the gunmen was later apprehended and confessed that he and the others were members of al Qaeda.
- Yemeni military forces continue to fight Ansar al Sharia in the south. Yemeni soldiers attacked Ansar al Sharia positions in the northern outskirts of Jaar on May 18, killing eight militants. A Yemeni airstrike killed three more militants on the coastal town of Shaqra, located in Abyan governorate. On May 19, clashes between the two sides killed at least 13 soldiers and 30 militants. Ansar al Sharia fighters carried out a surprise raid against a military post south of Jaar and, in a separate attack, destroyed two tanks. Meanwhile, Yemeni planes bombed militant positions in Jaar and Shaqra. A suspected U.S. drone strike killed two militants, a Yemeni and a Somali, in al Bayda governorate. At least eight Ansar al Sharia militants, four soldiers, and five tribesmen belonging to the Popular Resistance Committee were killed in fighting in Jaar on May 20. Military officials reported that Ansar al Sharia fighters have used suicide bombings against military checkpoints and vehicles to slow down the army’s advance. Witnesses reported that 18 vehicles filled with Ansar al Sharia militants arrived in Jaar from Azzan in Shabwah governorate, a militant stronghold. At least seven soldiers and seven militants were killed when the latter attacked a military post outside of Zinjibar on May 21.
- A jihadist posted a eulogy of a Somali militant on a jihadist forum on May 17. The militant, Ayyub al Muhajir, traveled to Yemen to wage jihad and was killed in a U.S. drone strike. The date and location of the strike, however, is not mentioned in the posting.
- A Yemeni government official reported that former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was admitted to a military hospital on May 20. The official stated that there are “concerns from Saleh's staff that he still needs more medical procedures and treatment.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Local witnesses reported two improvised explosive device (IED) blasts in Mogadishu on May 19. The first bomb reportedly targeted an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Locals reported that the second bomb exploded in Gubta village, killing five Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers. Ten others were wounded in the attacks and one woman was reported dead after succumbing to her wounds in Madina hospital. Hours earlier, two TFG soldiers were allegedly killed in grenade attacks in Bakara Market in Mogadishu’s Hodan neighborhood.
- Kenyan police chief Leo Nyongesa reported that four Kenyan soldiers were injured by a landmine blast under their vehicle in Mandera, Kenya. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
- TFG and Kenyan troops reportedly clashed with al Shabaab militants near Taabta village in Lower Jubba region on May 19. The number of casualties and injuries has yet to surface.
- Al Shabaab’s Lower Shabelle regional governor Sheikh Mohammed Abu Abdullah asked for economic and moral support from the Bi Mal tribe at a rally near KM-50 on May 19. Abdullah said, “Al shabab wants your youth joined in the militants to tighten the holy war against the AMISOM and Somali government in Mogadishu and elsewhere the country.”
- TFG, Puntland, Galmudug, and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a representatives are gathering in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss the move from a transitional to a permanent government in Somalia. Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, and parliament speaker Sheikh Hassan reportedly met with officials from the UN, U.S., African Union, Arab League, East African peace bloc, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The conference will focus on Somalia’s roadmap for peace and stability with the hope of ending the transitional period in August 2012.
- Deputy Governor of Hiraan region Adawe Elmi reported that two TFG soldiers were killed when soldiers exchanged gunfire over a disagreement over money illegally collected at a checkpoint in western Beledweyne.