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: AQAP SVBIED strikes Yemeni military camp in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; ISIS militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Saudi-led coalition allows fuel shipments to UN planes in Sana’a city; al Houthi-Saleh fighters fire ballistic missiles to counter Hadi government offensives in Taiz and Ma’rib governorates

Horn of Africa: Kenyans vote in general elections; al Shabaab hijacks vehicles transporting voters in Mandera County, eastern Kenya; al Shabaab ambushes Burundian AMISOM convoy in Mahaday, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia; Puntland forces arrest suspected killer of Bari regional governor

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) at the Yemeni 103rd Infantry Brigade camp in Jahhayn town, southern Lawder district, Abyan governorate on August 8. AQAP militants stormed the camp’s gate after detonating the SVBIED, but the Yemeni Army and Emirati-backed security forces repelled them. The 103rd Infantry Brigade deployed to the camp in Jahhayn on July 30 as part of a renewed counterterrorism effort in  Abyan governorate.[1]

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Zaharah area, northwestern al Bayda governorate in central Yemen. ISIS militants shelled al Houthi-Saleh positions on August 6 and attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces with small arms on August 8. These attacks are part of ongoing clashes between al Houthi-Saleh forces and local tribal forces, backed by ISIS and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which began in late July.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition lifted restrictions preventing UN humanitarian aid planes from refueling in Sana’a city on August 7. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that authorities will transfer jet fuel from Aden city to Sana’a city this week. The UN is seeking a permanent agreement with the Saudi-led coalition to permit a regular flow of fuel between the two cities in order to increase UN humanitarian aid shipments.[3] 

Al Houthi-Saleh fighters fired ballistic missiles to repel advancing Hadi government forces in Taiz and Ma’rib governorates. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to fire a “Zilzal-2” ballistic missile at Hadi government-aligned forces in northern Mokha district, western Taiz governorate on August 8. Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted an al Houthi-Saleh ballistic missile over Ma’rib city in central Yemen on August 8.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Millions of Kenyans voted in general elections on August 8. Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is challenging incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta in an election that will determine the future of Kenya’s intervention against al Shabaab in Somalia. Former Prime Minister Odinga supports a strategic military withdrawal from Somalia, while President Kenyatta favors a military surge. Al Shabaab escalated attacks in eastern Kenya before the election in an attempt to drive voter demand for Kenyan military withdrawal. The tense elections also raised the risk of ethnic and tribal conflict in the event of contested results. Election-related violence since January 2017 killed at least nine civilians, including a prominent election official. Kenya’s polls closed at 17:00 local time (10:00 EST).[5]

Al Shabaab militants hijacked three civilian vehicles transporting voters to Mandera County from Nairobi on August 7. Al Shabaab militants intercepted the vehicles, which they claimed belonged to the Kenyan Election Commission, near Omar Jillo village, Mandera County, eastern Kenya. Al Shabaab stole a Jubilee Party vehicle in Bore Hole 11 town, Mandera County on July 28.[6] 

Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Burundian AMISOM convoy in Mahaday, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on August 7. Militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) before opening fire on the convoy with small arms.  Al Shabaab conducts attacks in Mahaday to disrupt ground lines of communication between Mogadishu and north-central Somalia.[7]

Puntland security forces arrested the suspected killer of Bari region Governor Khadar Buncun in Boosaaso, Bari region, northern Somalia on August 8. The unidentified gunman shot and killed Governor Buncun in Boosaaso on August 7. Security forces believe the assailant was motivated by inter-clan revenge.[8]

[1] AQAP militants detonate a SVBIED in Jahhayn town, Telegram, August 8, 2017; and “Two soldiers and five al Qaeda militants were killed by a suicide attack and clashes between the two sides in Abyan,” Al Masdar Online, August 8, 2017,
[2] Maher Farrukh, Twitter, August 8, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, July 28, 2017,
[3] “Saudi-led coalition agrees to allow fuel UN aid planes,” Daily Mail, August 7, 2017,; “The Arab Alliance agrees to supply UN aid planes to Yemen,” Al Masdar Online, August 8, 2017,; and “Saudi coalition blocks fuel for UN aid planes to Yemen,” Al Jazeera, August 1, 2017,
[4] “Army fires ballistic missile on Saudi-paid mercenaries in Mokha,” Sabanews, August 8, 2017,; and “Coalition systems intercept a ballistic missile fired by the al Houthis towards Ma’rib city,” Al Masdar Online, August 8, 2017,
[5] Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, “Kenyans Vote in Presidential Election, Amid Fears of Violence,” The New York Times, August 8, 2017,; Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, “Kenyan Election Official Is Killed on Eve of Vote,” The New York Times, July 31, 2017,;  “Violence related to campaigns peaked in July,” Daily Nation, August 5, 2017,; Bedah Mengo, “Kenya's opposition vows to pull soldiers from Somalia,” New China, June 28, 2017,; and “Kenya calls for Somalia troops surge ahead of AMISOM drawback,” Capital News, May 11, 2017,
[6] “Al Shabaab hijacks vehicles carrying voters in Mandera,” Shabelle News, August 8, 2017,; and al Shabaab claims to steal Kenyan Election Commission vehicles in Mandera County, Telegram, August 8, 2017.
[7] “Al shabaab militants attack AMISOM convoy near Mahaday,” Shabelle News, August 7, 2017,
[8] “Puntland’s police forces arrest killer of former Bari deputy governor,” Puntland Mirror, August 8, 2017,

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