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: Reported U.S. airstrike kills two AQAP militants in Shabwah governorate; al Houthi forces launch ballistic missiles targeting Najran city and Saudi ARAMCO facilities in Jizan city, southern Saudi Arabia; AQAP releases a video showing attacks on Emirati-backed forces; Saudi-led coalition airstrike hits wedding party in Hajjah governorate

Horn of Africa: Rival SNA forces clash while looting former Emirati training facility in Mogadishu; SNA forces repel al Shabaab attack targeting military base in Wardhigley district, Mogadishu; Ugandan AMISOM chief warns of decreasing offensive capabilities against al Shabaab

Yemen Security Brief

A reported U.S. airstrike killed two al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Bayhan district, western Shabwah governorate, eastern Yemen on April 22. Pro-AQAP sources referred to the militants as “civilians” rather than “brothers.” AQAP usually describes the group’s airstrike victims as brothers, not civilians. Sources also reported that an al Houthi landmine caused the deaths of the AQAP militants, not a U.S. airstrike.[1] 

Al Houthi forces launched four ballistic missiles targeting southern Saudi Arabia. Saudi air defenses intercepted an al Houthi-launched ballistic missile targeting Najran city, southern Saudi Arabia on April 22, according to Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al Maliki. Col. al Maliki added that another ballistic missile landed in a desert area in Najran region causing no casualties. Al Houthi forces last fired a ballistic missile targeting Najran city on April 16. Al Houthi forces fired two Badr 1 short-range ballistic missiles targeting Saudi ARAMCO facilities in Jizan city, southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 23. The Saudi-led coalition has not yet confirmed the al Houthi ballistic missile launch targeting Jizan city.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video showing five attacks on Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces on April 20. The video depicts two suicide raids in Mudiyah village and Zinjibar town, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on October 22, 2017 and February 24, 2017 respectively. The video also shows three other attacks on security forces in Ahwar town, Qarn al Kulasi area, and Zinjibar town, Abyan governorate. AQAP’s al Malahem Media Foundation published the video as the ninth episode in the “Repulsion of Aggression” series.[3]

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed at least twenty civilians and injuring fifty-five others after striking a wedding in Bani Qis district, Hajjah governorate, northern Yemen on April 20. The Saudi-led coalition has not commented on the airstrike at this time but a coalition official told Reuters it is investigating the matter.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Rival forces within the Somali National Army (SNA) clashed after attempting to loot weapons from a former Emirati military training base in Mogadishu on April 23. Somali authorities arrested several SNA soldiers who participated in the incident. The UAE disbanded its military training and funding program in Somalia on April 15 after Somali authorities seized $9.6 million from an Emirati plane in Mogadishu on April 8. The UAE claimed the money was meant to pay the salaries of SNA and Puntland security forces. The SNA took over General Gordon Academy, the Emirati training center, on April 21.[5] 

SNA forces repulsed an al Shabaab attack targeting a military base in Wardhigley district in Mogadishu on April 22. Al Shabaab attacked SNA forces with grenades and heavy gunfire. Al Shabaab militants killed at least one soldier in the exchange. The SNA killed several militants in the attack. The Somali minister of internal security was inspecting the military base at the time of the attack.[6]

The Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military chief warned that AMISOM forces may not be able to sustain offensives against al Shabaab without funding and adequate resources on April 22. General David Muhoozi stated that Uganda’s AMISOM contingent shut down multiple forward operating bases in Somalia to maintain defensive capabilities against al Shabaab. Uganda was the first troop-contributing country in Somalia in 2007 and provides the largest AMISOM contingent.[7]

[1] “Houthi landmine seems more likely than a drone strike,” Twitter, April 23, 2018,; “Reports that US drone strike in Bayhan, Shabwa last night killed 2 men on motorbike,” Twitter, April 23, 2018,; and “Two people killed by an airstrike in Bayhan, western Shabwah,” Al Masdar, April 22, 2018,; and “Unmanned drone targets two al Qaeda elements in Shabwah,” Aden Lang, April 22, 2018,
[2] “RSAD Destroys Ballistic Missile Launched by Houthi Militia at Najran, Another Fell in An Empty Desert, No Casualties, Al Turki Reports,” SPA, April 22, 2018,; “Saudi Arabia interception of ballistic missile fired by al Houthis towards Najran,” Al Masdar, April 22, 2018,; and “Rocket force fires two ballistic missiles at ARAMCO port in Jizan,” Saba, April 23, 2018,
[3] “AQAP Video Features 5 Attacks on SBF in Abyan Including 2 Suicide Raids in 2017,” SITE, April 20, 2018,
[4]“Saudi-led air strikes kill at least 20 at Yemen wedding,” Reuters, April 23, 2018,; and “33 dead and dozens wounded in a raid by the Arab alliance on a wedding in Yemen,” RT Arabic, April 23, 2018,
[5] “Rival groups from Somalia's army fight at former UAE training facility,” Reuters, April 23, 2018,; “Casualties Feared, Dozens Arrested As UAE-Trained Soldiers Fight SNA After Breaking Into Armor,” Radio Dalsan, April 23, 2018,; “Somalia takes over UAE training centre in Mogadishu,” Hiiraan Online, April 22, 2018,; and “Ex UAE Trained Unit Renamed “Daljir” As SNA Fully Takes Charge,” Radio Dalsan, April 21, 2018,
[6] “Somalia: Militants raid military base in Mogadishu,” Garowe Online, April 22, 2018,; “Al-Shabaab Militant Raid on SNA Military Base in Mogadishu Repulsed,” Strategic Intelligence News, April 23, 2018,; and Al Shabaab attacks SNA base in Mogadishu, Telegram, April 22, 2018.
[7] “Amisom at risk of stagnating in Somalia-Ugandan army chief,” Goobjoog, April 23, 2018,; and “We’re stuck in Somalia, says Army chief,” Daily Monitor, April 23, 2018,

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