Gulf of Aden Security Review - October 31, 2011

Yemen: Mortar shell hits al Daylami air force base; violence erupts in Sana’a and Taiz; roadside bomb explodes in Aden; bomb explodes outside general security headquarters in Aden; police arrest five al Qaeda suspects in Aden; tribesmen free kidnapped Uzbek doctor

Horn of Africa: American suicide bomber targets AMISOM base in Mogadishu; Kenyan airstrikes hit al Shabaab positions near Jilib; Ras Kamboni militia stops car carrying explosives to Kenya; al Shabaab leader defects to TFG forces; al Shabaab’s spokesman warns people to stay away from government buildings; TFG arrests twenty al Shabaab militants in Gedo  

Yemen Security Brief  

  • Mortar shells struck al Daylami air force base in Sana’a, causing an explosion. Two military aircraft were reportedly on fire. Earlier reports indicated that the mortar shell hit Sana’a International Airport, as both airports lie adjacent to each other. Flights were diverted to Aden International Airport as a precaution.[1]  
  • Tribal sources reported that troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh shelled areas in Nihm and Arhab districts in Sana’a, killing four people and wounding 13 others overnight on Sunday. The 62nd Brigade also reportedly struck a gas station. In Taiz, a doctor reported that government forces fired at a car, killing one civilian and wounding two others. Hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the ouster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh continued to march in several Yemeni governorates on Sunday. Elite Republican Guards troops reportedly fired into the air in an attempt to break up the marches.[2]  
  • A roadside bomb killed one soldier and two others as they were on patrol in Aden. Officials reported that it is likely that al Qaeda-linked militants planted the bomb.[3]  
  • A bomb exploded outside the general security headquarters in Aden, wounding four soldiers on Saturday.[4]  
  • Yemeni police arrested five al Qaeda suspects in connection with the October 28 assassination of Colonel Ali al Hajji, in Aden. Police reported that the suspects were found with a remote control device in a vehicle close to the site where the car bomb that killed al Hajji exploded.[5]  
  • Tribesmen freed an Uzbek doctor who was kidnapped in Ma’rib governorate on October 25.[6]  

Horn of Africa Security Brief  

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Mogadishu at a former metal factory near Mogadishu Stadium.  Two suicide bombers disguised as soldiers detonated their explosive devices to initiate the attack.  Al Shabaab militants then attempted to storm the base.  Al Shabaab released a statement claiming that the attack killed eighty Ugandan soldiers.  A statement by the African Union (AU) claimed that troops repelled the attack and that only three AMISOM soldiers were killed and three others wounded.  Al Shabaab released an audio message from one of the suicide bombers, identified as Somali-American Abdisalan Hussein Ali.  Ali urged Muslims around the world to take up violent jihad in his statement.[7]
  • Kenyan airstrikes targeted an al Shabaab convoy near the town of Jilib in Middle Jubba region.  The airstrikes hit an al Shabaab base, but also incurred civilian casualties.  Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) reported that a camp for internally displaced persons was hit, killing five people and injuring at least fifty others.  Kenya claimed to have killed ten al Shabaab militants and injured 47 others and blamed the civilian deaths on al Shabaab.  Kenyan military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir sai that al Shabaab militants attempted to fire anti-aircraft guns at the Kenyan jet and drove a vehicle that had been hit into the camp, which then exploded.[8]  
  • Mohammed Farah, a spokesman for the pro-government Ras Kamboni militia, said that Ras Kamboni forces seized a vehicle near Dhobley carrying explosives towards Kenya.  He said, “Our forces in patrol found the car 8 km away from the town on its way to Kenya and we have discovered different types of explosive materials in the car.”  He also said that the vehicle had ten passengers, four of whom were identified as al Shabaab.[9]
  • Yussuf Ahmed Liban, an al Shabaab leader who operated out of Afmadow in Lower Jubba region, defected with seven militants to Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces in Qoqani.  TFG commander Colonel Mohamed Abdullahi Yussuf said that they were “warmly received” and that they were being sent to Dhobley.[10]  
  • An unknown aircraft landed at the airstrip in Baidoa in Bay region.  “Reliable sources” say that the plane came from Eritrea.  Locals report that militants cordoned off the area around the airstrip and al Shabaab militants patrolled the roads leading to it.[11]  
  • Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage warned Somali civilians to stay away from government buildings and military bases, vowing more suicide attacks against them. Rage told reporters that al Shabaab had struck Hero Jarmal near Warshadaha Street in Mogadishu and that al Shabaab militants had killed over 100 AMISOM peacekeepers.[12]
  • The TFG in Gedo region has arrested twenty alleged al Shabaab militants in a security operation carried out by TFG troops.  Spokesman for the TFG forces in Gedo region Ahmed Adam Hirsi said that those arrested will “be brought to justice as soon as possible.”  He also commented that the TFG made advances against al Shabaab in the south but denied that Kenyan had assisted them.[13]

[1] Mohamed Hatem, “Yemen International Airport Shut After Explosions at Nearby Air Force Base,” Bloomberg, October 31, 2011. Available: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-31/yemen-international-airport-shut-after-explosions-at-nearby-air-force-base.html
Laura Kasinof, “Airport in Yemen is Hit by Shells as Attacks in the Capital Widen,” New York Times, October 30, 2011. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/31/world/middleeast/airport-in-sana-yemen-is-hit-by-shells.html
[2] Mohammed Ghobari, Mohamed Sudam, and Mohammed Mukhashaf, “UPDATE 3-Blast at Yemen base, nearby airport shut,” Reuters, October 30, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/30/yemen-clashes-idUSL5E7LU05U20111030
“Yemen Youth Steadfast in Call for Change; Marches Continue,” Yemen Post, October 30, 2011. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4250&MainCat=3   
[3] Mohammed Ghobari, Mohamed Sudam, and Mohammed Mukhashaf, “UPDATE 3-Blast at Yemen base, nearby airport shut,” Reuters, October 30, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/30/yemen-clashes-idUSL5E7LU05U20111030 
[4] “Another Bomb Attack in Aden,” Yemen Post, October 29, 2011. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4246&MainCat=3
[5] “Five Al-Qaeda suspects held in south Yemen after killing,” AFP, October 29, 2011. Available: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2011/Oct-29/152550-five-al-qaeda-suspects-held-in-south-yemen-after-killing.ashx#axzz1cMdp2PEX
[6] “Usbek doctor Freed by Yemen Tribes,” Yemen Post, October 31, 2011. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4254&MainCat=3
[7] “Shabaab Claims Killing 80 in Suicide Raid in Mogadishu,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 29, 2011. Available at SITE.
“Shabaab Suicide Bomber Incites for Jihad in West, Travel to Battlefields,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 30, 2011. Available at SITE.
“Militants attack AU base in Somali capital, claim 1 suicide bomber was American,” AP, October 29, 2011. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/defense-chief-kenyan-troops-will-stay-in-neighboring-somalia-until-kenya-feels-safe-again/2011/10/29/gIQA5B0nRM_story.html
Josh Kron, “American Identified as Bomber in Attack on African Union in Somalia,” New York Times, October 30, 2011. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/31/world/africa/shabab-identify-american-as-bomber-in-somalia-attack.html
[8] Josh Kron, “Aid Group Says Refugee Camp in Somalia Was Hit by Airstrike,” New York Times, October 31, 2011.  Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/world/africa/aid-group-says-refugee-camp-in-somalia-was-hit-by-airstrike.html
David Clarke, “Airstrike on Somali IDP camp kills 5, wounds 45: MSF,” Reuters, October 31, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/31/us-kenya-somalia-idUSTRE79U2K320111031
“3 killed, 52 wounded in Somalia after airstrike hits camp for displaced civilians,” AP, October 31, 2011. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/aid-group-american-and-danish-hostages-seized-by-somali-gunmen-are-alive-and-well/2011/10/31/gIQANNSIYM_story.html
[9] Sahra Abdi and Omar Faruq, “Kenya kills 10 Shabaab fighters in air strike,” Reuters, October 30, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/30/us-kenya-somalia-idUSTRE79T1HS20111030
[10] “Senior Al-Shabaab leader defect to government side,” Radio Bar-Kulan, October 28, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/10/28/senior-al-shabaab-leader-defect-to-government-side
[11] “Alleged Eritrean plane carrying arms for Al-Shabaab lands in Baidoa, Bay region,” Radio Bar-Kulan, October 31, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/10/31/alleged-eritrean-plane-carrying-arms-for-al-shabaab-lands-in-baidoa-bay-region
[12] “Al shabaab warns people to avoid govt, AU bases in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, October 30, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=12045
“Shabaab Warns People to Avoid AU Bases,” Diirad, October 31, 2011. Available: http://www.diirad.com/news-in-english/3730-shabaab-warns-people-to-avoid-au-bases-.html
[13] “Govt soldiers in southern Somalia arrest over 20 Al shabaab fighters,” Shabelle Media Network, October 31, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=12037