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: Suspected U.S. drone strike kills three local AQAP leaders in al Bayda; Yemeni officer and two aides kidnapped in al Bayda; suicide bomber detonates vehicle at civilian checkpoint near Lawder as fighting continues for sixth day; President Hadi approves deployment of approximately 200 U.S.-trained CT forces to Abyan; one Ansar al Sharia leader reportedly killed in Zinjibar, another arrested in Abyan; eight al Qaeda-linked militants and five soldiers killed in clashes in Aden; IED kills three children in Hadramawt; Yemeni interior ministry reports that AQAP plans to carry out attacks in al Dhaleh due to recent blows in Abyan governorate
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants launch mortars at several targets in Baidoa; mortars fired at Villa Somalia in Mogadishu; roadside bomb detonated in Garbaharey; TFG and Kenyan forces capture Hayo in Lower Jubba region; Kenyan police arrest Kenyan al Shabaab recruit; al Shabaab warns Sierra Leone against intervening in Somalia; al Shabaab releases eight communiqués on its activities; TFG vows to boost Mogadishu security
Yemen Security Brief
- A suspected U.S. drone strike on a moving vehicle allegedly killed three al Qaeda-linked militants in al Bayda governorate on April 14. The Yemeni defense ministry noted that the three militants were “local al Qaeda leaders,” specifically naming Mohammed al Sabri. In a separate incident in al Bayda governorate, a security official reported that a Yemeni officer and two of his aides were kidnapped on April 14.
- Fighting between al Qaeda-linked militants and government troops continued in Lawder in Abyan governorate. On April 14, Yemeni officials stated that 34 people, mostly militants, were killed in clashes. On April 15, a tribal source reported that a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle at a civilian checkpoint killing two tribesmen. Over 220 people have been killed in the six days of clashes.
- Yemeni military sources confirmed that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has authorized approximately 200 U.S.-trained Yemeni counter-terrorism forces to deploy to Abyan. In addition, the Yemeni defense ministry stated that an Ansar al Sharia leader, Raid al Said, was killed in Zinjibar and Abdul Raoof Naseeb, another leader in Abyan, was arrested.
- The Yemeni defense ministry reported that eight al Qaeda-linked militants and five soldiers were killed in clashes in Aden on April 14. One of the militants’ vehicles was reportedly destroyed in the attack.
- An improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Yemeni security patrol reportedly killed three children in al Qatan in Hadramawt governorate on April 15. The defense ministry blamed Ansar al Sharia for the attack, but Ansar al Sharia denied its involvement in an emailed statement.
- The Yemeni interior ministry reported on April 14 that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is planning to attack al Dhaleh due to the recent blows the organization has taken in Abyan governorate.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants launched mortars at an airport, state house, and hospital in the capital of Bay region, Baidoa, on the night of April 13. Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces returned fire. The number of casualties in the exchange of mortar fire was unknown.
- Mortars were fired at Villa Somalia, the presidential palace in Mogadishu, on April 14. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but al Shabaab has targeted Villa Somalia, with mortars and suicide bombs, in the past.
- A roadside bomb was detonated in the center of Garbaharey, the capital of Gedo region, on April 15. At least three people were killed in the blast and several wounded, including civilians and soldiers. Colonel Ahmed Muse, a TFG official, blamed al Shabaab for the attack but the group has not claimed responsibility.
- TFG forces, backed by Kenyan troops, reportedly captured Hayo in Lower Jubba region on April 14. “Several” al Shabaab militants were reported killed in the assault. “We managed to take over fully the control of Hayo after the combat. Our soldiers are now maintaining the law and order the in area where the militants were driven out shortly after the allied forces entered,” said Ismail Sahardiid, TFG’s commander in Lower Jubba.
- On April 12, Kenyan police arrested Abdullah Abdul Majid, 18, on suspicion of being involved in the March 10 grenade attack on a Nairobi bus station. He admitted to having trained with al Shabaab in Somalia in January 2011.
- Sheikh Abdurahman Muhumed Hudeyfa, al Shabaab’s commander in Lower Jubba, warned Sierra Leone against participating in the campaign against al Shabaab. “We, as the Mujahidin in Somalia tell the government and the people of Sierra Leone not to dispatch their boys to Somalia otherwise they will collect more bodies from here as failed Kenyans do,” Hudeyfa said on April 15. “We will fight them as we fought against the crusaders of Kenyans, AMISOM and the Christian Ethiopians.” Hudeyfa also said that the Sierra Leonean addition was indicative of the failure of the military campaign against al Shabaab.
- Al Shabaab posted eight communiqués on jihadist forums on April 13, detailing its activities over the previous week. Ali Mohamed Rage, the group’s official spokesman, gave a speech on April 6, with “hundreds” in attendance in Bardhere in Gedo region. On April 7 the group accepted the surrender and “repentance” of Ibrahim ‘Adu Uthman, the deputy to the speaker of the Somali parliament. Al Shabaab members distributed 1,600 head of sheep in Kurtunwarey district in Lower Shabelle region. Militants destroyed two vehicles and killed 15 “apostates” in an ambush in Galgudud region on April 8. The next day, an armored vehicle belonging to AMISOM was destroyed in Mogadishu’s Wahr Adi neighborhood. An IED was detonated in Baidoa on April 9, causing dozens of casualties; in the communiqué, al Shabaab claimed that subsequently there was a massacre of civilians in the city. On April 9, five TFG soldiers were killed in an IED blast in Mogadishu’s northern Karan neighborhood. Finally, on the same day, an al Shabaab militant reportedly threw a hand grenade at TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, missing him but killing three of his guards.
- TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed called for government forces to boost security in Mogadishu. The TFG’s Interior Minister and senior national security official, Abdisamad Mo’allin Mohamud, vowed to mobilize police, military, and AMISOM forces to secure the capital.