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: Russia withdraws diplomatic personnel from Yemen; counterterrorism unit raids Salafi-jihadi safe house and bomb factory in Aden; gunmen assassinate Salafi imam in Aden

Horn of Africa: Reported U.S. drone strike targets VBIED in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab militants kill Puntland explosives expert in Bari region, northern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Russia suspended its diplomatic presence in Yemen and withdrew its staff due to instability in Sana’a on December 12, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Russian Ambassador to Yemen and diplomatic staff will temporarily work from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Moscow has repeatedly expressed interest in mediating political negotiations to resolve the Yemeni conflict.[1] 

An Aden Police counterterrorism unit raided a Salafi-jihadi safe house and bomb factory in Cairo neighborhood, al Mansoura district, Aden city on December 12. Emirati Apache helicopters provided cover for the unit. Counterterrorism forces arrested thirteen Salafi-jihadi militants and killed three others during clashes. One militant detonated a suicide vest, killing only himself. Counterterrorism forces discovered explosive devices, medium weapons, and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) workshop. Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Aden-Abyan militants detonated two suicide VBIEDs in Aden in November 2017.[2]

Gunmen assassinated Salafi imam Sheikh Fayez Fuad in al Mansoura district, Aden city on December 12. Six other Salafi imams have been assassinated since October 10 in Aden. No militant group has claimed responsibility for any of the assassinations.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A reported U.S. drone strike targeted a suspected al Shabaab vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in Mubarak, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on December 12, according to a Somali intelligence official. The minibus filled with explosives left an al Shabaab stronghold near Mubarak and traveled toward Mogadishu. Mubarak is located between Qoryoley and Afgoi, along the Barawe-Afgoi highway.[4] 

Al Shabaab militants detonated a roadside IED that killed the head of the Puntland explosive device disposal team on December 12. Al Shabaab stated that the victim was attempting to defuse an IED at the time of the attack, which occurred on the Boosaaso-Galgala highway in Bari region, northern Somalia. Al Shabaab has attacked Puntland forces near Boosaaso four times since November 30.[5]  

[1] “Russia suspends diplomatic presence in Yemen, moves envoy to Riyadh: agencies,” Reuters, December 12, 2017,
[2] “Three terrorists were killed and three soldiers were wounded during a raid on an apartment in Cairo district,” Tahdeeth, December 12, 2017,; “Security source for Aden Lang: Counterterrorism forces are able to arrest 13 in wanted in Mansoura,” Aden Lang, December 12, 2017,; “Details of the raid for those wanted in al Mansura,” Aden Tomorrow, December 12, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, December 12, 2017,
[3] “The second assassination since a week ago, gunmen assassinate the imam of a mosque in Aden city,” Al Masdar, December 12, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, December 12, 2017,
[4] Abdi Guled, “Somalia intelligence officials report suspected US airstrike,” Washington Post, December 12, 2017,
[5] “Bomb kills bomb disposal expert in Somalia's Puntland, al Shabaab suspected,” Reuters, December 12, 2017,

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