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 and Saleh supporters clash in Sana’a city; U.S. helicopter crashes off coast of Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh shells kill civilians in Taiz city, central Yemen; AQAP attacks Houthis in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab captures Golweyn town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; Somali Federal Government deploys ministers to investigate reported civilian deaths following a SNA raid near Barire town, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab ambushes Kenya Defense Forces convoy in Damsi town, eastern Kenya; al Shabaab detonates VBIED along Makka al Mukarama highway in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces and supporters of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh briefly clashed in Hadda district, Sana’a city on August 26. Two al Houthi fighters and Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) deputy of foreign relations died in the clashes. Al Houthi militants set up a security checkpoint near the home of Saleh’s son before al Houthi and Saleh forces began clashing. Al Houthi forces also surrounded the GPC al Mithaq Institute in Sana’a on August 27. The Supreme Political Council praised the performance of security forces in containing the outbreak of violence and called for coordinated efforts to normalize the situation.[1]

A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter, belonging to the 160th Special Operations Air Regiment, crashed 20 miles south of the coast of Yemen on August 25. U.S. Central Command spokesman Colonel John Thomas said the helicopter was conducting a training mission just above the surface of the water when it lost power and crashed into the sea. U.S. ships recovered five of the six service members involved in the crash. U.S. forces are still searching for the missing service member. The 160th participated in the January 29 Special Operations Forces raid on an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) compound in central Yemen.[2] 

Al Houthi-Saleh shells killed four civilians in the Bir Pasha neighborhood, Taiz city on August 28. The Hadi government’s Ministry of Human Rights condemned the massacre, calling on the United Nations and international community to intercede in the conflict in order to accelerate the cessation of indiscriminate violence against civilians.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im area, central al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on August 28 and in Qayfa area, northwestern al Bayda governorate on August 27. AQAP fights alongside tribal militias in central Yemen to position itself as the protector of Sunnis in Yemen.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab claimed its militants captured Golweyn town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia after raiding a Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in the town on August 27. AMISOM officials denied al Shabaab’s claim that its militants captured the town. Golweyn town lies along two highways in Lower Shabelle region, connecting southern Somalia to Mogadishu.[5] 

The Somali Federal Government deployed several ministers to Barire town, Lower Shabelle region on August 28 to investigate allegations that the Somali National Army (SNA) killed ten civilians during a raid outside the town. Somali locals are demanding that the Somali Federal Government and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) apologize for reportedly killing the civilians on August 25. The locals are refusing to bury the bodies to protest the government. The Somali Federal Government claimed the raid targeted al Shabaab militants, and acknowledged that some civilians may have died in the US-supported operation. A U.S. AFRICOM press release stated that the Department of Defense is investigating these allegations.[6]

A Somali-born Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militant attacked Belgian soldiers with a knife in Brussels, Belgium on August 25. Belgian soldiers shot and killed the militant following the attack. The militant immigrated to Belgium from Somalia in 2004, and became a Belgian citizen in 2015.[7]

Al Shabaab ambushed a Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) convoy in Damsi town, eastern Kenya on August 28. Al Shabaab claimed to kill a KDF commander in the attack. The group targets civilians and security forces in eastern Kenya in an attempt to impose costs on the Kenyan state for its military presence in Somalia.[8]

Somali security forces interdicted a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) along Makka al Mukarama Road in Waberi district, Mogadishu on August 28. Al Shabaab also detonated a VBIED along Makka al Mukarama Road on August 27. Al Shabaab detonates VBIEDs along busy highways to undermine ongoing security operations in the capital and surrounding area.[9]

[1] “Fighters withdraw after clashes in Yemen capital - officials,” Reuters, August 27, 2017,; “The Supreme Political Council and the Military and Security Committee confirm the situation in the capital’s secretariat,” Saba News, August 28, 2017,; and “Houthi gunmen besieg Mithaq Institute,” Yemen Akhbar, August 28, 2017,
[2] Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Andrew deGrandpre, “Black Hawk helicopter that crashed off Yemen belonged to elite Special Operations air unit,” The Washington Post, August 26, 2017,; "U.S. Blackhawk helicopter crashes off Yemen coast," U.S. Central Command, August 28, 2017,
[3] “Calls for an urgent investigation into incidents targeting civilians in the city of Taiz,” Yemen Akhbar, August 28, 2017,; and “The Ministry of Human Rights condemns the massacre in Taiz by al Houthi,” Aden Tomorrow, August 28, 2017,
[4] AQAP claims to kill one al Houthi fighter in Qayfa, Telegram, August 27, 2017; AQAP claims to kill four al Houthi fighters in Dhi Na’im, Telegram, August 28, 2017.
[5] “Somalia: Al Shabaab attacks AU troops base in Golweyn town,” Garowe Online, August 27, 2017,
[6] Garowe Online, Twitter, August 28, 2017,; and Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somalis Protest Military Raid That Killed 10 Civilians,” Voice of America, August 26, 2017,; . 
[7] Terror Events, Twitter, August 25, 2017,; Paweł Wójcik, Twitter, August 26, 2017,; and Jennifer Rankin, “Man, 30, shot dead in Brussels after knife attack on two soldiers,” The Guardian, August 25, 2017,
[8] Garowe Online, Twitter, August 28, 2017,; and Al Shabaab claims attack on KDF in eastern Kenya, Telegram, August 28, 2017.
[9] Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 28, 2017,; and Garowe Online, Twitter, August 27, 2017,

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