Gulf of Aden Security Review - September 4, 2012
Yemen: U.S. drone strike kills Khaled Batees in Hadramawt governorate; failed airstrike kills 13 civilians in al Bayda governorate; Yemeni cabinet sacks five police chiefs, appoints new chiefs; Yemeni security official denies Belhaf pipeline sabotage; Popular Resistance Committee kills two suspected AQAP operatives in Abyan governorate; al Houthi rebels kidnap university student in Sa’ada governorate; Yemeni intelligence accuses Iran of supporting spy ring in Aden
Horn of Africa: AMISOM and TFG troops capture Miido city near Afmadow; Kenyan warships continue to shell Somali port city of Kismayu; two civilians are killed in an ambush in Lower Shabelle region of Somalia; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a administration fires chief of security forces, appoints new chief; Somali troops launch new security campaign in the port city of Marka; al Shabaab militants attack army base in central Somalia, clashes break out in Afmadow; three Ethiopian soldiers are killed in central Somali; AMISOM commander reports that the KM-50 region of Somalia is still under control; al Shabaab displays the dead bodies of four AMISOM soldiers and claims seven attacks in the last three days
Yemen Security Brief
- A reported U.S. drone strike killed senior al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives August 31 in Hadramawt governorate. Khaled Batees, wanted for his role in the 2002 Limburg attack, was killed along with four other suspected AQAP operatives.
- A failed airstrike killed at least 13 civilians September 2 in the Rada’a region of al Bayda governorate. There are conflicting reports as to whether the airstrike came from a U.S. drone or a Yemeni warplane. A senior Yemeni security official reported that al Dhahab tribesmen suspected of supporting terrorism were the intended target; however, the airstrike missed the tribesmen and hit another vehicle carrying civilians. A local source reported that hundreds of armed gunmen closed the main roads into Rada’a and gave the Yemeni government 48 hours to explain the airstrike.
- Five Yemeni police chiefs were fired September 3 according to a report from the Yemeni Defense Ministry. Replacements have already been appointed: Brigadier General Yahya Ali Saleh Hamid for Sana’a capital, Brigadier General Saleh Tareq for Amran governorate, Col. Omar Abdulkarim Ahmad for the capital municipality, Col. Mohammad Ahmad Amin al Maqaleh for al Hudaydah governorate, and Col. Ali Abdullah Taher for al Mahwit governorate.
- A Yemeni security official denied rumors that the Belhaf liquefied natural gas export terminal was bombed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives September 4. According to a report by Xinhua News, AQAP attackers detonated improvised explosive devices under a gas pipeline in the Safir oil fields in eastern Ma’rib governorate. The Yemeni security official added that production is running normally, with all upstream and downstream pipelines running at regular capacities.
- The Popular Resistance Committee, a pro-government tribal militia, killed two suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives September 2 in al Halma village of Abyan governorate. According to an unnamed militia chief, the Popular Resistance Committee raided a suspected AQAP hideout, killing one Pakistani and one Somali.
- Al Houthi rebels kidnapped Mohammad Hamid Naser Aweri, a university student, in the al Qahza region of Sa’ada governorate August 29. The fate of the student is currently unknown. The motive behind the attack is unclear.
- Yemeni intelligence accused Iran August 30 of supporting an espionage cell in Aden. According to Yemeni intelligence official Najeeb al Badawi, the suspected spies are Yemenis from the Sa’ada governorate. Badawi also reported that the suspected spies received specialized training in Tehran and rented an apartment overlooking the Saudi consulate in Aden.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- AMISOM and Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces captured Miido city near Afmadow August 31. AMISOM and TFG forces killed 36 al Shabaab militants during the fighting and destroyed several al Shabaab weapon caches and logistics supplies. AMISOM Commander Lt. Gen. Andrew Gutti reported that three AMISOM troops were wounded in the fighting.
- Kenyan warships continued to shell Kismayo, a key port city under al Shabaab’s control, September 3. The Kenyan navy reportedly hit Kismayo’s airport and seaport. According to local sources, the situation is very tense and many residents have fled their homes amid the bombing. Local residents also reported that al Shabaab attempted to block exit routes from the city. AMISOM forces and al Shabaab militants have yet to confirm any casualties in the fighting.
- Two civilians driving a supplies truck between Burhabaka and Wanlaweyne districts in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia were killed September 3. According to local sources, their truck was ambushed by unknown assailants. It is unclear if al Shabaab played a role in the ambush.
- The Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) administration in Gedo fired Sheikh Ismail as its head of security forces and appointed Osman Sheikh Abdi Qorah as his replacement September 3. According to the ASWJ administration, the new appointment of Abdi Qorah is an attempt to enhance its security operations in Somalia.
- Somali military forces launched a new security operation September 3 in the southern port city of Marka. According to a Somali army official, the purpose of the operation is to remove pockets of al Shabaab resistance that are still present in Marka. AMISOM and Somali forces recaptured Marka from al Shabaab militants August 27.
- Somali government officials reported September 2 that al Shabaab militants attacked an army base in Afgoi, located southwest of Mogadishu. Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces did not suffer any casualties in the attack and were able to defend the base. Ensuing clashes broke out between AMISOM and TFG troops and al Shabaab militants in Afmadow town in the Lower Jubba region. Local sources reported witnessing explosions and military helicopters flying in the region.
- Three Ethiopian soldiers were killed in central Somalia September 1. Witnesses in the region reported seeing an explosion inside a military base and suggested that the attack might have been a remote-controlled landmine. The Ethiopian army has not commented on the incident.
- Ugandan Contingent Commander of AMISOM Brigadier Paul Lokech denied reports August 31 that al Shabaab recaptured the KM-50 area of Lower Shabelle region of Somalia. Brigadier Paul Lokech reported that AMISOM forces are controlling the area and the situation is calm.
- Al Shabaab militants displayed the dead bodies of AMISOM and Somali troops September 1 in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo. According to local sources, there were four dead bodies displayed, two of which were Kenyan soldiers and the other two Somali. In a separate announcement, al Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for seven attacks in the last three days, including the killing of four Somali militia elements and assassinating a spy.