Gulf of Aden Security Review

A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.{{authorBox.message}}



Yemen: Reported U.S. airstrike kills several AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes kill civilians in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Kenya’s electoral commission CEO takes temporary leave of absence; al Shabaab detonates SVBIED outside Mogadishu, Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

A reported U.S. airstrike killed several al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants traveling in a vehicle between al Sawmah and Mukayras districts in southern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on October 19. Mukayras district lies on the border of al Bayda and Abyan governorates. An AQAP-affiliated social media account and local news sources claimed the airstrike killed five men. U.S. airstrikes targeted AQAP militants in al Sawmah district three other times in September.[1] 

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit two private residences, killing six civilians in al Ghawr area, Ghamr district, Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on October 20, according to al Houthi-Saleh news outlets. A suspected Saudi-led coalition cluster bomb also injured five children in Qahza area, north of Sa’ada city on October 20. The UN named the Saudi-led coalition on a blacklist for indiscriminately targeting children on October 5.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The CEO of Kenya’s electoral commission Ezra Chiloba announced he would take a three week leave and not oversee the October 26 re-run election on October 20. Opposition leader Raila Odinga discussed the opposition party’s demands to participate in the re-run election with election commission chairman Wafula Chebukati, including the removal of Chiloba on October 19.[3] 

An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) on Mogadishu-Afgoi highway in Elasha Biyaha village, Lower Shabelle, southern Somalia, 16 kilometers outside Mogadishu. The two vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) used in the October 14 Mogadishu bombing that killed over 300 Somalis entered Mogadishu on the same highway.[4]

[1] “Suspected U.S. drone strike kills 3 al Qaida fighters in Yemen,” The Washington Post, October 19, 2017,; “List of martyrs,” Telegram, October 19, 2017; “Drone strike kills al Qaeda militants in Yemen,” Aden Tomorrow, October 20, 2017,; “Drone strike in al Bayda,” Aden Tomorrow, October 19, 2017,; “Four al Qaeda members militants killed in drone strike,” Al Masdar, October 19, 2017,; “Al Qaeda members killed in al Bayda drone strike,” Aden Lang, October 20, 2017,; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, October 20, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, October 19, 2017,
[2] “The number of victims of the Sa’ada raids increased to 11 martyrs and wounded,” Al Masirah, October 20, 2017,; “Ten civilians killed and injured by air raids in Sa’ada,” Saba News, October 20, 2017,; and “Five children injured by cluster bomb in Sa’ada,” Al Masirah, October 20, 2017,
[3] “Kenya election board CEO rejected by opposition goes on leave ahead of poll,” Reuters, October 20, 2017,
[4] “At Least Two People Killed In Car Bomb Blast Near Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, October 20, 2017,

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Yemen: China to forgive Hadi government debt; former president Saleh appeals for support from Chinese president; Saudi-led coalition airstrike hits Hadi government troops; al Houthi-Saleh forces launch ballistic missile at Hadi government-aligned forces in Lahij governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Kenyan governors boycott election; Kenyan election commission chairman discusses re-run election with opposition leader; al Shabaab militants attack Ugandan forces in Lower Shabelle, southern Somalia; al Shabaab militants assassinate Jubbaland state MP

Yemen Security Brief

The Chinese government signed a memorandum of understanding with the internationally-recognized Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government on October 18 to forgive $111 million worth of Yemen’s debt. Hadi government Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Abdul Malik al Makhlafi met with Chinese Ambassador to Yemen Tian Qi in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia to discuss humanitarian relief and bilateral relations on October 18.[1]

Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh sent a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping urging China to help end the Saudi-led coalition’s air campaign and blockade on Yemen through the UN Security Council on China’s 19th General Conference of the Communist party on October 18. Saleh stressed his aspirations for stronger bilateral relations and counterterrorism cooperation with China. He also reminded Jinping of China’s support for the September 26 and October 14 Yemeni revolutions.[2]

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed eight Hadi government-aligned troops in Mandabah area, Baqim district, Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on October 17, according to southern reports. The airstrike was likely intended to target al Houthi-Saleh forces clashing with the Fifth Brigade of the Hadi government army.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a Zilzal-2 ballistic missile targeting Hadi government-aligned forces at a school in Kahboub district, Lahij governorate, southern Yemen on October 19, according to al Houthi-Saleh state run news outlets. Kahboub district lies on the southwestern border between Lahij and Taiz governorates.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The governors of Kenya’s Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, and Migori counties declared a boycott of the October 26 election because of concerns over the election’s credibility on October 19. The opposition-aligned governors banned election officials and materials from entering polling locations. The Kenyan Constitution requires an election to occur in every voting precinct to be valid.[5]

Kenyan electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati discussed re-run election reforms with opposition leader Raila Odinga on October 19. The chairman also postponed a meeting discussing the logistics of the re-run election with all seven candidates. Chebukati expressed concerns over the credibility of the re-run election due to pressure and threats from Kenyan political parties on October 18.[6]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Qoryoley, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on October 19, according to its social media account. Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Ugandan AMISOM convoy outside Qoryoley on October 8.[7]

Al Shabaab militants assassinated Jubbaland state Member of Parliament Abdul Tima-Faras in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on October 18. Al Shabaab targets state leaders to destabilize local governments.[8]

[1] “The Chinese government is exempting our country from debts of more than 700 million Yuan,” Saba New, October 18, 2017,
[2] “The president of the conference congratulates the president and the leadership of the Communist Party of China on the convening of its General Conference,” Al Motamar, October 18, 2017,
[3] “Dead and wounded National Army soldiers by a wrong raid by the coalition in Sa’ada,” Aden Tomorrow, October 18, 2017,; and “Coalition aircraft kills eight government soldiers in Sa’ada,” Al Masdar, October 18, 2017,
[4] “Zilzal 2 rocket targets Saudi-led coalition forces in Lahij,” Saba News, October 19, 2017,; and “Rocket hits coalition forces in Lahij,” Al Motamar, October 19, 2017,
[5] Kepher Otieno, “Nyanza Governors say no elections in October,” Standard Media,” October 19, 2017,
[6] Patrick Lang'at, “Raila Odinga meets with Wafula Chebukati,” Daily Nation, October 19, 2017,
[7] “Al Shabaab militants attack Ugandan AMISOM base in Lower Shabelle,” Telegram, October 19, 2017.
[8] “Al Shabaab militants assassinate Jubbaland MP,” Radio Dalsan, October 18, 2017,

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Yemen: Two Emirati pilots die in Yemen; gunmen assassinate Salafi Sheikh in Aden city, southern Yemen; AQAP militants detonate IED in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills six civilians in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: October 14 al Shabaab Mogadishu attack may have intended to target Turkey military base; Mogadishu police interdict two vehicles with explosives; Kenyan electoral commission cannot assure free and fair re-run election; reported U.S. airstrike kills eight civilians in Lower Shabelle, southern Somalia 

Yemen Security Brief

The UAE announced the death of two Emirati pilots after their plane crashed in Yemen on October 17. The state run news agency attributed the crash to a technical failure. Local sources reported that al Houthi-Saleh forces downed an Apache helicopter in Abraqin area, Khabb wa ash Sha’af directorate, Jawf governorate, northern Yemen. Al Houthi-Saleh forces have not officially claimed responsibility, however. The UAE has announced four other plane crashes in Yemen since the start of Emirati engagement in the civil war.[1]

Gunmen assassinated Salafi imam Sheikh Fahd Mohammed Qasim al Younsi in al Mansura district, Aden city, southern Yemen on October 18. Hundreds of local residents participated in al Younsi’s funeral procession and called for the perpetrators of his murder be held accountable. Emirati-backed security forces arrested 11 Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah party members on October 11 and 12 allegedly in connection to the October 10 assassination of Salafi imam Yassin al Adani in Aden.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Emirati-backed al Hizam forces in Mudiyah city, northern Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on October 18. AQAP frames its attacks against Emirati-backed forces as in reprisal for violence against local populations.[3] 

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a private residence killing six civilians in Ruhum area, Bart al Anan district, al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen on October 17. Two Saudi-led coalition airstrikes also killed three civilians in Majz district, Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen earlier on October 17. The UN named the Saudi-led coalition on a blacklist for indiscriminately targeting children on October 5.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab’s October 14 vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack in Mogadishu intended to target Turkey’s new military base near Kadha district, according to Somali intelligence officials. Turkey officially opened the new base on September 30. Somali intelligence officials detained two suspects on October 18 linked to the October 14 Mogadishu bombing which killed over 300 Somalis. An al Shabaab militant driving one of the VBIEDs crashed into a fuel truck in front of the Safari hotel while attempting to flee security forces after being stopped at a checkpoint. A Somali intelligence official stated al Shabaab built the VBIEDs outside the town of Afgoi, Lower Shabelle, 30 kilometers from Mogadishu. Somali forces control the town but al Shabaab controls the surrounding rural area. One of the suspects was a former Somali National Army soldier from Barire town, where Somali forces supported by U.S. troops killed ten civilians in August.[5] 

Somali police interdicted two vehicle borne improvised explosive devices in Waberi district, Mogadishu, southern Somalia on October 17. U.S. private security firm Bancroft defused the VBIEDs.[6]

The chairman of Kenya’s electoral commission Wafula Chebukati announced he cannot assure voters a fair re-run election because of political pressures and violent threats toward the commission on October 18. Election Commissioner Roselyn Akombe resigned and fled to the U.S. after receiving numerous death threats against her family on October 17. Opposition leader Raila Odinga also withdrew from the re-run election and called for daily protests against the election commission’s leadership and for a fresh, fair election. Opposition protesters interrupted poll training sessions on October 17.[7]

A reported U.S. airstrike killed eight civilians in Barire, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on October 17. A Somali military officer claimed the U.S. airstrike targeted an al Shabaab convoy. Al Shabaab recaptured Barire from Somali National Army forces on October 14.[8]


[1] “General Command of UAE Armed Forces announces martyrdom of two pilots in Yemen,” Emirates News Agency, October 17, 2017,; “Downed Apache aircraft in al Jawf,” Khabar Agency, October 17, 2017,; and “A UAE warplane crashes in al Jawf and kills its crew,” Al Motamar, October 17, 2017,
[2] “The assistant secretary general of the association of Aden scholars was killed by unknown gunmen,” Al Masdar, October 18, 2017,; and “Hundreds of mourners escort the body of Sheikh al Younsi amidst a state of shock and anger,” Aden Tomorrow, October 18, 2017,
[3] AQAP targets al Hizam forces in Abyan, Telegram, October 18, 2017; and “A martyr from al Hizam and a number of wounded in a terrorist attack in Mudiyah,” Aden Lang, October 18, 2017,
[4] “An Arab airstrike targeting a house in al Jawf killing six civilians and wounding one,” Al Masdar, October 18, 2017,; “A new Saudi massacres a whole family of victims in al Jawf,” Khabar Agency, October 18, 2017,; and “Air agression kills a whole family in al Jawf,” Yemen Today TV, October 18, 2017,
[5] “The Latest: 2 arrested in connection with Somalia bombing,” ABC News, October 18, 2017,; ;Harun Maruf, "Intel Official Says Turkish Military Base Was 'Target' of Somalia Truck Bomb," VOA, October 17, 2017,; and Jason Burke, “Somalia bombing may have been revenge for botched US-led operation,” October 17, 2017,
[6] “American bomb experts called in as two suspects and truck are impounded in Mogadishu,” Radio Dalsan, October 17, 2017,
[7] Duncan Miriri and Katharine Houreld, “Kenyan election board head not certain vote will be free and fair,” Reuters, October 18, 2017,
[8] “Eight civilians wounded in airstrike near Bariire,” Garowe Online, October 17, 2017,

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