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: Pentagon confirms 20 Yemen airstrikes in April; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in central al Bayda governorate; Sputnik news claims U.S. sent military aid to Aden International Airport

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants kidnap four WHO aid workers in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis confirmed that U.S. forces conducted approximately 20 airstrikes targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants and AQAP “infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment” between May 31 and April 3. Captain Davis stated that U.S. forces conducted airstrikes in Shabwah governorate. He did not comment on local reports of airstrikes in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, between April 1 and 3. Local news sources initially characterized the Shabwah airstrikes as Saudi-led coalition strikes, not U.S. strikes.[1] 

AQAP attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on April 2 and 4. AQAP militants claimed to kill seven al Houthi-Saleh troops with an improvised explosive device (IED) in al Rawdah, southern al Bayda governorate on April 2. Local anti-al Houthi forces fought in the same location on April 2. AQAP militants repelled an al Houthi-Saleh attack and killed five fighters in Noufan area, western al Bayda, on April 4.[2]

Russian state-run news agency Sputnik claimed that four American C-130 cargo planes landed in Aden International Airport to deliver military aid to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government between April 3 and 4. Sputnik quoted a local Yemeni security source who alleged that the U.S. shipment will support Hadi government operations against the al Houthi-Saleh faction in western Yemen. The Sputnik report claimed that Aden International Airport was closed on April 2 to prepare for the delivery. Published flight times from Aden International Airport on April 2 do not support this claim.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief 

Al Shabaab militants kidnapped four World Health Organization (WHO) aid workers near Luuq town in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia, on April 3. The militants abducted the workers as they traveled along a road near Golweyn town, approximately 20 miles from the Kenyan-Somali border. Somali police forces are negotiating for the release of the aid workers, who are part of a polio vaccination team. Al Shabaab has historically impeded efforts by humanitarian organizations to deliver aid in Somalia. The militant group banned international aid agencies from operating in its territory during the 2011 famine. Al Shabaab militants kidnapped aid workers, destroyed food and medical supplies, and raided local offices to enforce the ban.[4]

[1] Terri Moon Cronk, “U.S. Airstrikes Hit Terrorists in Yemen,” U.S. Department of Defense April 3, 2017,
[2] AQAP claims to kill al Houthi-Saleh troops in Rawdah and repel an attack in Noufan, al Bayda governorate, Telegram, April 4, 2017.
[3] “Aden Airport, Yemen: Four U.S. military cargo planes carrying large quantities of weapons to the President arrive,” Sputnik Arabic, April 4, 2017,; and “Arrivals and departures from Aden International Airport on Sunday,” Aden Lange, April 2, 2017,
[4] “Somalia al Shabaab Islamist militants kidnap aid workers,” BBC News, April 4, 2017,; and Katherine Zimmerman, “Al Shabaab and the Challenges of Providing Humanitarian Assistance in Somalia,” Critical Threats Project, September 8, 2011,
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