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.

Yemen: AQAP and ISIS militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen; UNHCR warns of worsening famine in Yemen and Africa; Hadi government forces claim to control Jebel Nar in Taiz governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim to fire ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces in Sana’a governorate; Yemeni security forces protest unpaid salaries in Abyan and Aden governorates

Horn of Africa: KDF and AMISOM forces shell al Shabaab camp near Kenyan-Somali border in Gedo region; Kenyan police arrest most wanted terror suspect

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on April 10. AQAP militants assassinated an al Houthi-Saleh commander in Yarim, northern Ibb governorate. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claimed to kill six al Houthi-Saleh troops in an attack on a base in Qayfa, western al Bayda governorate.[1] 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that the likelihood of mass starvation is growing in Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and Nigeria. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards warned that the humanitarian crisis may be worse than the 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa, which killed 260,000 people. More than half of Yemen’s population, or approximately 17 million people, face food insecurity.[2]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces clashed with the Saudi-led coalition and forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi on multiple fronts in Taiz governorate on April 10. Pro-Hadi forces claimed to take control of Jebel Nar area, Mokha district, western Taiz governorate after forty days of fighting. Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked Hadi government ground forces in nearby Mokha and Mawza districts on April 10. Hadi government forces fought the al Houthi-Saleh bloc in Mokha and Mawza districts in an attempt to drive al Houthi-Saleh forces away from Mokha city. Hadi government forces reportedly plan to reach al Hudaydah port before the start of Ramadan on May 26. Al Houthi-Saleh forces are attempting to slow this advance with an increase in ballistic missile strikes.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to fire three “Zilzal-2” ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate on April 11. The missile attacks are not confirmed. Hadi government forces are attempting to advance toward Sana’a city from the northeast.[4]

Yemeni security forces protested unpaid wages in southern Yemen. Troops from the 115th Brigade stationed in Lawder district, Abyan governorate, demonstrated on April 11 by surrounding the Brigade’s headquarters and throwing stones at the cars of officials trying to enter the building. Yemeni veterans also demonstrated in Aden city by blocking off a major road until security forces broke up the protest.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers attacked an al Shabaab camp near Gantama village in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia, on April 10. KDF and AMISOM forces fired mortar shells on al Shabaab positions in the camp, killing at least 15 militants. Gantama is located 65 miles from the border town of Elwaq, a key access point for KDF forces in Somalia. KDF forces frequently conduct operations to disrupt al Shabaab activity along the Kenyan-Somali border in Gedo and Lower Jubba region. KDF airstrikes and artillery fire killed 57 al Shabaab militants near Afmadow town in Lower Jubba region on March 2.[6] 

Kenyan police forces arrested the country’s most wanted terror suspect, Ali Hussein Ali, in Malindi town in Kalifi County, southeastern Kenya, on April 7. Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit arrested Ali, known by the alias “Trusted One,” and an accomplice for their connections to the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), al Shabaab, and human smuggling networks in North Africa. Ali facilitated the recruitment and travel of Kenyans and Somalis to join ISIS in Libya. He also facilitated human smuggling networks for illegal immigrants entering Europe from Libya.[7]

[1] AQAP claims its militants assassinated an AQAP commander in Yarim, Ibb, Telegram, April 11, 2017; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, April 10, 2017,
[2] Stephanie Nebehay, “Risk of mass starvation rapidly rising in Africa, Yemen, U.N. warns,” Reuters, April 11, 2017,
[3] “Army controls Jebel Nar in Mokha,” Aden Lange, April 11, 2017,; “Battles and artillery exchange between government forces and Houthi gunmen west of Taiz,” al Masdar, April 10, 2017,; and “Military brigades are preparing for the battle to liberate the west coast and al Hudaydah port,” Aden Lange, April 8, 2017,
[4] “3 Zilzal-2 rockets fired at mercenaries in Nihm,” al Masirah, April 11, 2017,
[5] “Riots and chaos for payment of salaries for the army brigade in Lawder,” Aden Lang, April 11, 2017,; and “Interior retirees cut the maritime road in Aden to protest non-payment of salaries,” Aden Tomorrow, April 11, 2017,
[6] “KDF Kills 15 al Shabaab Militants in Gedo, Somalia,” Shabelle News, April 11, 2017,; and “Kenyan forces battle al Shabaab militants in Somalia,” Reuters, March 2, 2017,
[7] “Kenya arrests suspected wanted al Shabaab member,” Shabelle News, April 11, 2017,
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