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 militants escape from prison in southeastern Yemen; Saudi-led coalition destroys four boats near western coast of Saudi Arabia; Hadi government forces continue offensive on al Houthi-Saleh base in western Taiz governorate; AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces fire ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces in Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants fire mortars at Hawl Wadag district in Mogadishu; Qoryoley police chief releases five al Shabaab militants from jail; ISIS-linked militants temporarily seize Dasan village in Bari region, northeastern Somalia; Chinese naval frigate interdicts attempted hijacking by Somali pirates in Gulf of Aden

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants escaped from a prison in southeastern Yemen on April 17. A total of 11 militants, some from al Houthi-Saleh forces and some from AQAP, escaped from a prison in Ataq city, central Shabwah governorate. Security forces captured eight of 11 escapees. The identities and affiliations of the remaining escapees are unknown.[1]

Saudi-led coalition warships destroyed four boats near the coast of Jazan region in southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 17. Saudi news sources reported that Saudi vessels opened fire on al Houthi-Saleh boats that approached the Saudi frigate King Abdulaziz. Saudi news sources claimed that the boats were carrying explosives, weapons, and ammunition toward the Saudi coast. The Saudi Navy killed a number of the boat’s passengers and claimed to arrest nineteen others. Pro-al Houthi media claimed that the Saudi Royal Navy arrested 17 fishermen from al Hudaydah governorate, likely referring to the same incident.[2]

Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi continued an offensive to seize Camp Khaled ibn Walid in Taiz governorate, western Yemen on April 17. The Saudi-led coalition carried out nine air strikes on al Houthi-Saleh targets near the camp on April 17. Hadi government forces claimed to establish a partial siege on the camp from three directions after a hard fight. Al Houthi-Saleh forces killed a Hadi government field commander, Abdul Ghafur Subaihi, on April 17. At least five Sudanese soldiers and 17 Hadi government fighters, including 14 members of the Subaihi tribe, have died in the battle for the camp.[3]

AQAP militants conducted three attacks targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on April 16. AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED), killing seven al Houthi-Saleh troops, and threw grenades at a checkpoint in Damt district, northern al Dhaleh governorate. AQAP militants also assassinated an al Houthi-Saleh commander in Ibb city, Ibb governorate.[4]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired either three or four ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces in Mokha city, Taiz governorate, on April 18. Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted the missiles over Taiz governorate.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Suspected al Shabaab militants fired mortars at residential areas of Hawl Wadag district in Mogadishu on April 18. The shells hit a school, killing at least five people and wounding seven others, including four schoolchildren. The targeted area is located less than a mile from Villa Somalia, the presidential palace in Mogadishu, where Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire was meeting with Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) commanders at the time of the attack. Al Shabaab militants have shelled the capital for a two consecutive days. Militants shelled areas near Aden Adde International Airport on April 17, but Somali security forces disrupted the attack.[6]

A local police chief released five al Shabaab militants from jail in Qoryoley town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on April 17. Somali security forces seized the police station in Qoryoley to prevent the release of additional prisoners. SNA forces detained four al Shabaab militants during a security operation near Qoryoley on April 11. Qoryoley is located 75 miles west of Mogadishu.[7]

Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)-linked militants temporarily seized Dasan village in Bari region, northeastern Somalia, on April 15. Local security forces did not respond. The militants withdrew the next day. Dasan is located 25 miles south of Qandala town in Bari region. The same ISIS-linked militant group controlled Qandala from October 2016 until December 2016, when local security forces recaptured the town. Between 100 and 200 militants led by Abdiqadir Mumin, head of the ISIS-linked group in Somalia, operate from outposts in the Galgala Mountain area of Bari region in northeastern Somalia.

A Chinese naval frigate, the Hengyang, interdicted Somali pirates attempting to hijack an Emirati-owned oil tanker on April 16. The Chinese frigate responded to a distress call from the Alheera, which is owned by UAE’s Gulf Energy, off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden. Chinese naval forces killed two of the pirates and forced six others to flee. Somali piracy has resurged in recent weeks after five years of inactivity. The UN has urged international naval forces and commercial vessels to remain vigilant to prevent pirate attacks off the Somali coast.[8]

[1] “Security services in Shabwah intercept 8 criminal elements after fleeing from the reform prison in the center of the governorate,” Aden Tomorrow, April 18, 2017,; and “Urgent: the escape of prisoners from a government prison in Ataq,” Aden Tomorrow, April 17, 2017,
[2] “Saudi Navy destroyed four boats trying to get close to the coast of the Kingdom,” Aden Tomorrow, April 18, 2017,; and “Saudi battleships continue to detain Yemeni fishermen,” al Masirah, April 18, 2017,
[3] “Army committees pursuing the Saudi army soldiers and their mercenaries,” al Masirah, April 17, 2017,; “Dozens of martyrs and wounded in the liberation of Camp Khaled named,” Aden Tomorrow, April 17, 2017,; and “Military resistance repels two attacks near Camp Khaled east of Mokha,” Aden Lange, April 17, 2017,
[4] AQAP claims two attacks in al Dhaleh and one in Ibb governorate, Telegram, April 16-17, 2017.
[5] “Houthis launch 3 ballistic missiles on the city of Mokha which alliance defenses intercepted,” al Masdar, April 18, 2017,; and “Alliance defenses intercept four ballistic missiles near Mokha,” Aden Tomorrow, April 18, 2017,
[6] “Mortar attack kills at least 3, injures five in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, April 18, 2017,; and “Mortar shells land around Mogadishu Airport,” Shabelle News, April 16, 2017,
[7] “Tension runs high in Qoryoley district,” Shabelle News, April 17, 2017,; and Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “Somali National Army (SNA) Detains 4 al Shabaab Terrorists near Qoryoley Town, Lower Shabelle Region,” Strategic Intelligence Service, April 11, 2017,
[8] Jason Jiang, “Gulf Energy tanker attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden,” Splash 24/7, April 17, 2017,; Abdi Guled, “Two Pirates Killed While Trying to Hijack Ship Near Somalia,” Associated Press, April 16, 2017,; and “Recent attacks show pirates off Somalia’s coast still a potent threat,” UN News Centre, April 4, 2017,

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