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: U.S. confirms nine airstrikes targeting AQAP militants in Yemen since September 2016; AQAP releases latest issue of its al Masra newspaper; Hadi government forces advance on northern fronts; al Houthi-Saleh shelling injures two Saudi civilians in Jazan city

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab kidnaps seven Somali delegates in Adodo, Galmudug State; al Shabaab briefly seizes Haluqa town, Garissa County, Kenya; militants attack police station in Kwale County, Kenya; Puntland and Galmudug forces clash in Galkayo city, Mudug region; al Shabaab militants detonate IED in Hodon district, Mogadishu; UN to launch training program for returning Somali refugees; EU to pay Somali police stipends

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. Central Command confirmed that it conducted nine U.S. airstrikes targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Yemen between September 23 and December 13. The strikes killed 28 militants in Ma’rib, Shabwah, al Bayda, and Hadramawt governorates.[1]
  • AQAP released the 34th issue of its al Masra newspaper on December 22. The newspaper featured a call to action in response to the fall of Aleppo. The article called on Sunnis to unite against American, Russian, and Iranian forces. The newspaper also praised the killer of the Russian ambassador to Turkey as a “model for sons of the Ummah.” It summarized reports of Russian interference in U.S. elections and claimed that the incident has created rifts in American society. The newspaper also promoted AQAP’s operations in al Bayda governorate and provided updates on various al Qaeda’s affiliates.[2]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government seized territory on multiple fronts in northern Yemen as part of shaping operations for an offensive on Sana’a city, Yemen’s capital. Hadi government and allied local forces claimed to seize territory after attacking al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate and al Masloub district, al Jawf governorate on December 23. Saudi-led coalition warplanes provided air support. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to repel the attacks. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also claimed to launch two Zilzal-1 ballistic missiles targeting Hadi government forces in al Khalifin, al Jawf governorate. Hadi government forces also claimed to advance near Kitaf village and al Buqa, northern Sa’ada governorate on December 23. Hadi government forces also seized new territory in Nihm, northeastern Sana’a governorate on December 22. The Hadi government is attempting to control the major roadways leading to Sana’a city in order to maintain supply lines for an offensive on the capital.[3]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled Jazan city and injured two Saudi citizens on December 23, according to the spokesman for the Saudi Civil Defense force. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also claimed to shell Saudi forces in Najran region in southern Saudi Arabia on the same day. Saudi-led coalition artillery and Apache helicopters targeted multiple al Houthi-Saleh positions along the Saudi-Yemeni border on December 23. Saudi forces repelled an al Houthi-Saleh attack in the Saqam area in Najran region, Saudi Arabia, on December 22.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants captured seven delegates from Somalia’s Lower House elections in Adodo, Galmudug State, central Somalia. The militants brought the delegates to a stronghold in Bariri, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia and released photos of the prisoners. Al Shabaab has threatened to kill participants in Somalia’s electoral process.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants temporarily seized Haluqa town in Garissa County, Kenya on December 23, according to the group’s al Shahada news outlet. Al Shabaab previously seized Haluqa in November 2016 as part of a campaign targeting telecommunications infrastructure in eastern Kenya. Haluqa houses offices for the Kenyan telecommunications company Safaricom.[6]
  • An unidentified group armed with bows, arrows, and machetes attacked a police station in Kombani, Kwale County near Mombasa, Kenya on December 23, wounding three policemen. Police killed one of the approximately 10 attackers. Either al Shabaab or the Mombasa Republican Council, a separatist group that has attacked several police stations in the area since 2013, is likely responsible.[7]
  • Puntland security forces clashed with Galmudug security forces in Galkayo city, Mudug region on December 23. The two sides exchanged mortar and anti-aircraft fire, killing at least two people and wounding several others. Puntland and Galmudug states share administrative control of Galkayo. Fighting between the rival administrations has displaced hundreds of civilians from Galkayo in 2016.[8]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants remotely detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in a garage in Hodon district, Mogadishu on December 22. The blast killed three people, including a Somali soldier, and injured four others.[9]
  • The UN Peacebuilding Fund will allocate $3 million to provide peacebuilding and professional training to Somali refugees in both Kenya and Somalia. The cross-border pilot project will support refugees who volunteer to leave Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp and return to Baidoa, Somalia. Kenya seeks to close Dadaab camp, which houses primarily Somali refugees, in 2017 due to public backlash against its cost and accusations that al Shabaab uses the camp as a recruiting hub.[10]
  • The EU will pay stipends to 6,800 members of Somalia’s police force this week as part of a pre-existing agreement to support Somalia’s security sector. EU Head of Delegation and Ambassador to Somalia Veronique Lorenzo recognized the Somali Federal Government’s responsibility to pay salaries but emphasized the EU’s intent to support security personnel as Somalia’s “main development partner.”[11]


[1] “Yemen Strikes Kill 28 Al-Qaida Terrorists,” Department of Defense, December 22, 2016,
[2] AQAP releases 34th issue of al Masra newspaper, Telegram, December 22, 2016.
[3] “Liberate 7 sites in Nihm and progress in al Jawf and Sa’ada,” Aden Tomorrow, December 23, 2016,; and “Firing rockets (Zilzal-1) and (al Surkha) on gatherings of mercenaries in Al-Jawf,” al Masirah, December 23, 2016,,
[4]“Saudi nationals injured after the fall of shells on the city of Jazan,” al Masdar, December 23, 2016,; and “30 Houthis Killed near the Saudi Arabia - Yemen border,” Aden Tomorrow, December 23, 2016,; “Army artillery shelled positions and committees and gatherings of Saudi army in Najran, Jazan,” al Masirah, December 23, 2016,
[5] Hassan Istilla, “Somalia: Al Shabaab Captures Election Delegates From Central of Somalia,” Dalsan Radio, December 22, 2016,
[6] Twitter, December 23, 2016,; “al Shabaab says briefly captured town in Kenya,” All Galgadud, November 23, 2016,  
[7] “One dead after armed attackers raid Kenya police station on coast,” Reuters, December 23, 2016,; and “Al Shabaab militants raid police station in Wajir town,” Shabelle News, December 23, 2016,
[8] “Two killed in clashes between Galmudug and Puntland in central Somalia,” Goobjoog News, December 23, 2016,
[9] “Somalia: At least three killed in Mogadishu blast,” Shabelle News, December 22, 2016,
[10] “UN allocates $3 million to Somalia-Kenya cross-border pilot project for Somali refugees,” UN News Centre, December 22, 2016,
[11] “EU funds stipend payment for 6,800 Somali Police Officers,” Mareeg, December 22, 2016,  
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