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 Houthi forces fire two ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills twelve civilians in al Hudaydah governorate; militants detonate IED outside of security headquarters in Aden; Hadi government official calls for UN investigation into WFP warehouse fire in al Hudaydah

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks five military bases in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; U.S. airstrike targets al Shabaab militants near Elbur, Galgudud region; Ethiopian parliament inaugurates Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement fired two ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia. Al Houthi forces reported firing a Badr 1 missile at a Saudi National Guard camp in Najran province, southern Saudi Arabia on March 31. The Saudi-led coalition intercepted the missile, according to Saudi state media. Falling missile debris injured an Indian resident. Al Houthi forces also fired a Qaher 2-M ballistic missile at a Saudi military camp in Jizan province, southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 1, according to al Houthi media.[1] 

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a private residence and killed at least twelve civilians in al Hali district, east of al Hudaydah port in western Yemen on April 2. A Saudi-led coalition spokesperson affirmed that an internationally approved independent committee will investigate the strike. Al Houthi media reported that the airstrike hit an internally displaced people’s camp.[2]

Militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) outside a security administration headquarters and a military camp in Khormaksar district, Aden city, southern Yemen on April 2. Hadi government Presidential Protective Forces use the camp.[3]

Hadi Government Minister of Local Administration Abdel Raqeeb Fatah called on UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Lise Grande to investigate the cause of a fire that damaged World Food Programme (WFP) warehouses at al Hudaydah port in western Yemen on March 31. The fire destroyed 50 tons of fuel and food supplies. Local firefighters said that an electrical short circuit may have caused the fire. The al Houthi movement controls al Hudaydah port, which receives eighty percent of humanitarian aid and commercial shipments in Yemen.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants launched five simultaneous attacks on Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) outposts in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on April 1. Al Shabaab militants detonated two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) that breached the defenses of an AMISOM base in Bulo Marer, allowing militants to storm the base. Al Shabaab militants also detonated an SVBIED at an AMISOM base in Golweyn, fired mortars at security forces in Barawe, and conducted light infantry attacks in Qoryoley and Mashallay. The military outposts are located near the main highway that connects Mogadishu to southern Somalia. AMISOM officials stated that militants killed four AMISOM soldiers but said AMISOM forces still repelled all of the attacks, killing about 30 al Shabaab militants. Al Shabaab claimed to kill dozens of AMISOM soldiers in the coordinated attacks.[5] 

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants near Elbur in Galgudud region, central Somalia on April 1. AFRICOM reported that the airstrike killed five al Shabaab militants and destroyed one vehicle. Local sources claimed the airstrike killed over ten militants. Al Shabaab claimed the airstrike killed three civilians, including prominent local elders. The U.S. has intensified airstrikes targeting al Shabaab in southern and central Somalia since late 2017.[6]

The Ethiopian parliament inaugurated Abiy Ahmed as prime minister of Ethiopia on April 2. Ahmed said that he intends to address ethnic divisions in Ethiopia in his inauguration speech. He also plans to resolve the ongoing border dispute between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea. The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia commended the Ethiopian government for the “peaceful transfer of power.” The Somali and Kenyan presidents also congratulated Ahmed. Ahmed was previously the chairman of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), which represents the largest ethnic group in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the country’s ruling coalition. The EPRDF elected Ahmed as the ruling party chairman on March 28. Former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on February 15 following anti-government protests in the Oromo and Amhara communities. The Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency on February 16, resulting in persistent clashes between protesters and security forces.[7]

[1] “Qaher 2-M ballistic missile leveling an innovative Saudi camp in outskirts of Jizan,” Saba News, April 2, 2018,; “Saudi Royal Air Defenses intercept and destroy a ballistic missile fired by al Houthi militia towards Najran,” Saudi Press Agency, March 31, 2018,; “Saudi forces say Houthi missile intercepted over Saudi city: state media,” Reuters, March 31, 2018,; and “Ballistic missile leveling a Saudi National Guard Camp in Najran,” Saba News, March 31, 2018,
[2] “Saudi-led air strike kills 12 civilians, including seven children: medics,” Reuters, April 2, 2018,; “Death and injury of 26 citizens in the raids on a camp for the displaced in Hudaydah,” Saba News, April 2, 2018,
[3] “Explosion of an explosive device in Kormaksar district in Aden, no casualties,” Al Masdar, April 2, 2018,; and “Explosive device explodes around the perimeter of security headquarters and presidential guard camp,” Aden Tomorrow, April 2, 2018,
[4] “Fire breaks out at World Food Program warehouses in Yemen,” AP, March 31, 2018,; “Yemen war: Fire damages World Food Programme warehouse,” BBC, March 31, 2018,;  “Major fire at Yemen’s Hodeidah port destroys aid supplies,” Reuters, March 31, 2018,; and “Fatah deplores the burning of WFP warehouses in al Hudaydah and calls for an urgent investigation,” Saba New, March 31, 2018,
[5] “Extremists Attack African Union Base in Southern Somalia,” Voice of America, April 1, 2018,; “Al Shabaab attacks an African Union base in Somalia,” Reuters, April 1, 2018,; “Casualties Feared As Al-Shabaab Launch Multiple Attacks On Amisom & SNA In Lower Shabelle,” Radio Dalsan, April 1, 2018,; “Shabaab Claims Killing 59 Ugandan Soldiers in Suicide Raid in Lower Shabelle,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 1, 2018, available by subscription at; “Al-Shabaab simultaneous car bomb attacks African Union base in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, April 1, 2018,; “AMISOM troops successfully repulse Al Shabaab terrorists following simultaneous attacks on three AU bases in the Lower Shabelle region,” AMISOM, April 2, 2018,; and “In Somalia, Shabab Attacks Leave Ugandan Peacekeepers Dead,” The New York Times, April 1, 2018,
[6] “U.S. Conducts Airstrike in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” AFRICOM Press Releases, April 2, 2018,; “10 Militants Killed in El Bur Airstrikes,” Radio Dalsan, April 1, 2018,; and “Suspected US drone strike Kills 3 civilians in central Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, April 2, 2018,
[7] “Ethiopia's new PM pledges reforms to end violence,” Reuters, April 2, 2018,; “Abiy Ahmed Named Ethiopia's New Prime Minister,” Voice of America, April 4, 2018,; “U.S. Embassy Statement on the Confirmation of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed,” U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, April 2, 2018,; and “Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed wants to resolve Eritrea disputes,” BBC, April 2, 2018,

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