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: Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills 14 civilians in Sana’a city, northern Yemen; AQAP militants ambush al Hizam security forces in Hadramawt governorate, southern Yemen; gunmen assassinate Hadhrami Elite Forces officer in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Deputy governor claims soldiers killed ten civilians in U.S.-backed raid in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; Kenyan electoral commission refutes claims of election fraud; Turkish troops deploy to Mogadishu; lack of rain exacerbates food insecurity in Somalia; al Shabaab assassinates Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency officer in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed 14 civilians in a residential neighborhood in the Faj Attan area, southwest of Sana’a city on August 25. The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers continue to pull victims from the rubble. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a hotel in Arhab district, northern Sana’a governorate on August 23, killing 41 civilians.[1]

Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants ambushed Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in Ja’ar, Khanfir district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on August 24. An al Hizam unit attempted to return fire at the militants but unintentionally targeted a seperate al Hizam unit.[2]

Two gunmen assassinated a Hadhrami Elite Forces officer Abdullah Naji Awad bin Taleb in Shibam district, Hadramawt governorate on August 24. Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces are tasked with security and counterterrorism operations in Hadramawt governorate. Abdullah bin Taleb was the brother of Shibam district director Faraj Naji bin Taleb, whom militants attempted to assassinate in December 2016. Militants also assassinated a Hadhrami Elite Forces soldier in Seiyun city, Hadramawt governorate on August 24. AQAP militants frequently attack Hadhrami Elite forces in Hadramawt governorate.[3]

A militant assassinated a member of the Technical Committee of the Transitional Council of the South, Abdullah Ahmed Hassan, also known as Abdullah al Muhandes, in Shabwah governorate, southern Yemen on August 24. Transitional Council officials and southern movement activists stated his death is a great loss to the movement and affirmed the Transitional Council’s desire to further his objectives.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. forces supported a Somali National Army (SNA) raid targeting al Shabaab militants near Barire village, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on August 25. Lower Shabelle region Deputy Governor Ali Nur Mohamed claimed that foreign soldiers killed ten civilians, including three children, during the raid in Barire. Mohamed stated that soldiers killed farmers tending their crops “one by one” while moving through Barire village. Somalia’s information minister refuted this claim insisting that Somali forces only killed al Shabaab militants. A U.S. Africa Command press release stated that the Department of Defense is investigating these allegations.[5]

The Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission filed legal documents with Kenya’s Supreme Court on August 24 refuting opposition party claims that the August 8 election results were fraudulent. Presidential candidate Raila Odinga is attempting to contest the election results in the Supreme Court. Odinga lost to incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta by a wide margin in an election verified by the U.S., European Union, and African Union.[6]

Roughly two hundred Turkish military trainers deployed to Turkey’s base in Mogadishu on August 23. Additional Turkish troops are expected to deploy to Mogadishu over the coming weeks to train the SNA. Turkish troops are planning to train 1,500 SNA soldiers at a time to bolster Somalia’s security and counter-al Shabaab efforts. Turkey officially opened its military base in Mogadishu on August 22.[7]

A poor rainy season is exacerbating Somalia’s food insecurity crisis. Somalia is projected to produce up to 50 percent less cereal than it typically does due to light summer rains, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Over six million people in Somalia are in need of humanitarian assistance.[8] 

Al Shabaab claimed its militants assassinated a Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officer in Fafahdun city, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia on August 25. Somali police also dismantled an improvised explosive device (IED) attached to a NISA officer’s car in Mogadishu on August 24. Al Shabaab is conducting an assassination campaign to destabilize the Somali government.[9]    

[1] “Children among dead as fresh air strikes hit Yemen,” Al Jazeera, August 25, 2017,; and “Nine civilians were killed in coalition raids south of Sanaa,” Al Jazeera Net, August 25, 2017,
[2] “Two soldiers killed in an exchange of fire between members of al Hizam in Khanfir,” Sahafah 24, August 24, 2017,; “Urgent: Dead and wounded in exchange of fire between security forces in Abyan,” Aden Lang, August 24, 2017,; “Urgent: Two soldiers killed in gunfight between Khanfir Security Belt members,” Aden Tomorrow, August 24, 2017,; and “A source tell Aden Lang details of the Jaar, Abyan clashes,” Aden Lang, August 24, 2017,
[3] “Urgent: Officer killed in the Hadrami Elite in Shibam,” Aden Time, August 24, 2017,; and “Unknown gunmen assassinate a citizen in Saiyun district in Hadramawt,” SMA News, August 24, 2017,
[4] “Head of the Information Department of the Council: The assassination of Engineer Abdullah al Dhali will only increase our determination to follow his approach,” Southern Transition Council, August 25, 2017,; “Obituary of the leader of the southern movement Abdullah al Dhali,” Aden Lang, August 25, 2017,; and Adam Baron, Twitter, August 24, 2017,,,,
[5] Abdi Guled, “10 civilians, including kids, dead in US-backed Somalia raid,” AP, August 25, 2017,,-including-kids,-dead-in-US-backed-Somalia-raid?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=AP.
[6] John Aglionby, “Kenya election commission denies poll was marred by fraud,” Financial Times, August 25, 2017,
[7] “Somalia: Around 200 Turkish Soldiers Arrive in Mogadishu,” Horn Observer, August 25, 2017,
[8] “Somalia: Food Security Not Expected to Improve in Parts of the Country, Says UN Aid Coordination Office,” Somali Update, August 25, 2017,
[9] Al Shabaab claims its militants assassinated an NISA officer in Gedo region, Telegram, August 24, 2017; and Hassan Istiila, Twitter, August 24, 2017,

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