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-Saleh IED kills a Hadi government commander near Ma’rib city, central Yemen; airstrike kills cousin of former AQAP emir in southern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; gunmen assassinate popular resistance leader in Taiz city amid inter-militia tensions

Horn of Africa: Somali President declares war zone and shuffles security chiefs; AMISOM-backed SNA forces attack al Shabaab militants near Marka, Lower Shabelle region; AMISOM troops kill at least five civilians in Barawe, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

An improvised explosive device (IED) planted by al Houthi-Saleh forces detonated beneath a convoy carrying troops fighting for Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government near Sahn al Jen camp, northern Ma’rib governorate, on April 6. The attack killed four people, including 203rd Brigade commander Brigadier General Mohammed al Shawish. Al Shawish’s convoy was traveling south toward Ma’rib city as part of regular military patrols at the time of the attack.[1] 

Reported U.S. warplanes struck al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in central and southern Yemen on April 5 and 6. AQAP social media reported that a U.S. airstrike killed the cousin of the former AQAP emir Nasser al Wahayshi in al Sawmah, southern al Bayda governorate on April 5. A U.S. airstrike killed a local AQAP official on his motorcycle in the Maraqisha area, southeastern Abyan governorate on April 6, according to local news reports.[2]

Unidentified gunmen assassinated a Hadi government-aligned militia commander in Taiz city, western Taiz governorate, on April 5. Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot Western Front commander Marwan Shamiri before looting his body. Inter-militia violence is increasing in Taiz city. The Hadi government-aligned Sabir Front militia engaged in a standoff with militants loyal to Salim al Handhala, an anti-al Houthi commander, at Taiz city’s Revolution General Hospital on April 4. Doctors went on strike in the days leading up to April 3, citing the harassment of medical workers by al Handhala’s men. Al Handhala stood down on April 5, allowing the Hadi government-aligned 170th Air Defense Brigade to take control of the hospital with the support of local officials.[3]


Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared Somalia a war zone and instructed the Somali National Army (SNA) to prepare for a new offensive against al Shabaab on April 6. President Farmajo also replaced the top military, intelligence, and police chiefs, as well as the mayor of Mogadishu. Farmajo offered al Shabaab militants 60 days to surrender and receive amnesty from the Somali government. The new offensive will first focus on improving security in the capital, Mogadishu. Al Shabaab has intensified attacks and assassinations in the capital since President Farmajo’s election in February 2017. Al Shabaab detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) outside the Somali Ministry of Internal Security in Mogadishu on April 5. The militant group also detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) outside the Qatari Embassy later that same day.[4] 

SNA forces attacked al Shabaab militants on the outskirts of Marka town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on April 6. African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces supported SNA troops in conducting a joint offensive against al Shabaab-controlled villages in Bufow and Kabtanlas. The joint AMISOM-SNA forces fired mortar shells on al Shabaab positions before advancing and seizing parts of the villages. Neither side reported casualties. Marka is located 70 miles southwest of Mogadishu.[5]

AMISOM troops killed at least five civilians near Barawe town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on April 6. A Southwest State parliamentarian confirmed that AMISOM killed an elderly man, a mother, and her three children in Warer Maleh village outside Barawe. Pro-al Shabaab Telegram channels claimed that AMISOM forces gunned down at least 10 civilians in the incident. AMISOM has been implicated in numerous civilian deaths in Somalia since the peacekeeping mission began in 2007. Al Shabaab publicizes such incidents in order to weaken public support for AMISOM and strengthen its position as an alternative security force.[6]

[1] “Saudi-paid mercenary chief of staff killed in bomb blast in Marib,” Sabanews, April 6, 2017,; “Military commander killed by roadside bomb near the city of Ma’rib,” al Masdar, April 6, 2017,; and “Dead and wounded from a roadside bomb in Ma’rib,” Aden Lange, April 5, 2017,
[2]AQAP reports cousin of al Wuhayshi killed in a U.S. drone strike in al Bayda, Telegram, April 5, 2017; Dr. Elisabeth  Kendall, Twitter, April 6, 2017,; and “Al Qaeda leader killed in an air raid in Abyan,” Aden Lang, April 6, 2017,
[3] “Gunmen kill leading resistance fighter in Taiz,” Aden Lange, April 5, 2017,; “Senior mercenary leader assassinated in Taiz city,” Sabanews, April 6, 2017,; “Militants take Revolution Hospital in Taiz, attack doctors, and refuse to surrender to government forces,” al Masdar, April 4, 2017,; “Army troops guard Revolution Hospital in Taiz,” Barakish, April 6, 2017,; and “Government forces take Revolution Hospital in Taiz after days-long standoff,” al Masdar, April 5, 2017,
[4] Abdi Guled, “Somalia Leader Declares Country A War Zone, Replaces Chiefs,” Associated Press April 6, 2017,; “Bomb blast near KM-4 junction in Mogadishu,” Garowe Online, April 5, 2017,; and Abdi Guled, “Car Bomb Kills At Least 7 At Restaurant In Somalia’s Capital,” Associated Press, April 5, 2017,>[5] “Somalia’s government troops battle al Shabaab fighters near port town,” Garowe Online, April 6, 2017,
[6] “AU forces kill five members of the same family,” Shabelle News, April 6, 2017,; and New AMISOM massacre against 10 civilians, Telegram, April 6, 2017.
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