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: Al Houthis advance into central Aden; suspected Ansar al Sharia militants conduct widespread attacks on multiple sites in al Mukalla, Hadramawt; suspected al Houthi militants fire at Saudi border guards, killing one

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks university in North Eastern Province, Kenya; former senior al Shabaab member claims ties with al Qaeda have weakened

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Houthi militants appear to be in control of the majority of Aden city, Aden as of April 2. The al Houthis shelled forces loyal to Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Crater, Aden, and seized control of Khormaksar following clashes with pro-Hadi forces from April 1-2.  A reported 13 civilians died from al Houthi artillery.[1]
  • Suspected Ansar al Sharia militants attacked government and security facilities in al Mukalla, Hadramawt on April 2. The militants reportedly released an estimated 300 prisoners from a prison in the city, including mid-level al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander Khaled Batarfi. The militants also looted the central bank and assaulted a coastal defense camp, the second military region headquarters, and the presidential palace in al Mukalla. There are unconfirmed reports that the militants established checkpoints in al Mukalla, making it unclear if the militants are simply raiding multiple sites in the city or attempting to seize control of it.[2]
  • Suspected al Houthi militants attacked a Saudi observation post in Asir, Saudi, on April 2. The attack killed one Saudi soldier and wounded ten others. There are unconfirmed reports that Saudi Arabia has begun dismantling the wall on the Saudi-Yemeni border in some areas, indicating preparations for a possible ground assault in northern Yemen.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a university campus in Garissa, North Eastern province, Kenya on April 2. At least 14 people were killed in the attack which involved militants taking Christians hostage and fighting with security forces. Al Shabaab later claimed responsibility for the attack.[4]
  • In an interview with Voices of America released on April 1, former al Shabaab intelligence head Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi claimed that al Shabaab’s ties to al Qaeda had withered and that the group may join with ISIS. He explained that the lack of relations between the two was evident after the death of former al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. He added that while a merger with ISIS is not imminent, it could occur in the next two years. Hersi surrendered to the Somali government in December 2014 and accepted an offer of amnesty.[5]
[1] “Unidentified troops land in Aden after Houthis seize center,” Reuters, April 2, 2015. Available:
“Dozens of soldiers disembark in Aden,” al Tagheer, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Outcome of al Houthi shelling of Aden,” al Tagheer, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Violent clashes in Aden as the al Houthis enter Crater,” al Masdar, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “Al Qaeda militants deployed in al Mukalla and looting central bank,” Barakish, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Al Qaeda militants attack multiple sites in al Mukalla and free 300 prisoners,” Barakish, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Suspected Ansar al Sharia militants raid al Mukalla,” al Masdar, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Al Qaeda seizes al Mukalla Hadramawt,” al Watanye, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Saudi border guard killed by gunfire from Yemen,” Reuters, April 2, 2015. Available:
“Death of Saudi border guard and wounding of ten others,” Barakish, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Killing one and wounding 11, Saudi casualties on border of Yemen,” al Watanye, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Saudi Arabia begins to dismantle iron fence on border with Yemen,” al Tagheer, April 2, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] Drazen Jorgic, “Update 6-Al Shabaab storms Kenyan university, 14 reported killed,” Reuters, April 2. Available:
[5] Sahra Abdi Ahmed, “Ex-Shabab Official Claims al-Qaida Ties Dissolved,” Voice of America, April 1. Available:
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