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 AQAP militants ambush Yemeni military convoy and take fifteen soldiers hostage in Abyan governorate; Yemeni security forces detain gunmen with explosive devices in Abyan governorate; Nigerian citizen pleads guilty to U.S. charges for supporting AQAP in Yemen
Horn of Africa: Puntland police detain suspected al Shabaab militants in Bari region; unidentified assailants kill Jubbaland security officers in Lower Jubba region; AMISOM and SNA forces clash with al Shabaab militants in Galgudud and Gedo regions; Somali security forces conduct search operation in Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants ambushed a Yemeni military convoy en route to joining a military offensive on April 29 in the town of al Saeed in Shabwah governorate. The militants attacked the convoy with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades and captured a troop transport vehicle, taking 15 Yemeni soldiers hostage. The militants released two of the Yemeni soldiers shortly following the ambush, and reports indicate that the released soldiers had been “severely beaten.” In addition to the death of at least 12 militants, at least 15 Yemeni soldiers were killed, and 12 were wounded in the fighting. On April 30, suspected AQAP militants executed three of the remaining 13 Yemeni soldiers taken hostage in the April 29 ambush, and left their bodies near a road intersection in the city of Ataq in Shabwah governorate. Following the discovery of the three Yemeni soldiers, all of whom bore signs of torture, Yemeni security forces reportedly withdrew from the al Saeed area. The status of the final ten Yemeni soldiers held hostage remains unknown.
- Yemeni Security Forces seized a group of ten armed gunmen in possession of weapons, ammunition and explosive devices in Abyan governorate on April 29. One of the gunmen may have links to AQAP, although further details regarding the event remain unclear.
- Nigerian citizen Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, also known as Ayatollah Mustapha, pled guilty in U.S. Federal Court to charges of “providing material support to an al Qaeda affiliate, and participating in its media and recruitment campaigns,” on April 29 in New York. Babafemi is accused of traveling to Yemen and working directly with AQAP’s media arm, al Malahem Media Foundation, to help publish its English-language magazine, “Inspire,” as well as recruit English-speaking Nigerians to join AQAP.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Puntland police detained 12 suspected al Shabaab militants and sympathizers, including three women, during a security operation in Boosaaso in Bari region on April 29. The police launched the security operation after a suspected militant prematurely detonated an improvised explosive device (IED). The intended target of the IED remains unclear, since no casualties were reported from the blast. Separately, a landmine explosion killed four people and injured three others in Daboole Weyne near Dhabad in Galgudud region on April 30. It remains unclear whether the landmine was planted recently or a remnant of past conflict.
- Unidentified assailants killed three Jubbaland security officers in Kismayo in Lower Jubba region on April 29. Four assailants armed with pistols and assault rifles fired upon the security officers in the Via Afmadow section of Kismayo. The motivation behind the attack remains unclear as no group has yet claimed responsibility for the killings.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked an AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) military base in Garbaharey in Gedo region on April 29. Reports indicate that the leader of SNA forces in the El Ade area of Gedo region, Mohamed Qojof, was among those killed during the fighting. Separately, al Shabaab militants attacked a base occupied by Ethiopian AMISOM forces in Elbur in Galgudud region on April 30. The Ethiopian AMISOM contingent responded to the attack by confronting the militants and firing mortar shells at suspected al Shabaab locations throughout Elbur. Although the confrontation reportedly inflicted casualties to both sides, the exact figures remain unclear.
- Unspecified Somali security forces conducted a search operation throughout the Heliwa district of Mogadishu on April 30. A Heliwa district official reported that “dozens of people were arrested” by the security forces, citing general insecurity as prompting the operation.