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 and ISIS target al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen; AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in southern Yemen; Hadi government forces seize territory in Shabwah governorate; Hadi government and popular resistance forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks security forces in southern Somalia; al Shabaab assassinates military prosecutor in Puntland; Somali presidential elections delayed; Jubbaland security forces attack al Shabaab base in Lower Jubba Region; al Shabaab militants destroy communications tower in Wajir County, Kenya; AMISOM forces kill two civilians in Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed multiple attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on December 25-27. AQAP militants fired artillery at al Houthi-Saleh forces near Qifa village, Rada’a district, western al Bayda and detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) that killed an al Houthi-Saleh field commander in Rada’a on December 26. AQAP militants claimed to seize territory in Rada’a district and conduct multiple attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in western al Bayda on December 27. AQAP and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda both claimed to destroy an al Houthi-Saleh truck on December 27 near Qifa village. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claimed to launch mortars targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces near Qifa village on December 25.[1]
  • AQAP conducted multiple attacks against Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in southern Yemen on December 25-27. AQAP militants ambushed al Hizam security forces in Lawder district, northern Abyan on December 25. AQAP also claimed to kill two members of the Hadhrami Elite Forces in Douan, Hadramawt governorate during an ambush on December 27. Likely AQAP militants attempted to assassinate the Director of Shibam district, Hadramawt governorate on December 25. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi visited al Mukalla, Hadramawt to praise the efforts of counterterrorism forces on December 25.[2]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government seized territory in Usaylan and Bayhan districts, northern Shabwah governorate on December 27. Al Houthi-Saleh forces seized these districts in April 2015. Hadi government forces are four kilometers away from seizing a strategic town along the border of Usaylan and Bayhan districts, according to a spokesman. Major roadways to neighboring Ma’rib and al Bayda governorates cross through Usaylan and Bayhan districts.[3]
  • Hadi government and popular resistance forces continued an offensive against al Houthi-Saleh positions in Nihm district, roughly 100 kilometers northeast of Sana’a city, on December 24-27. Saudi-led coalition warplanes provided air support. Hadi government forces claimed to seize several new positions on December 24. Popular resistance forces claimed to destroy a Republican Guard camp in Arhab on December 27. The Republican Guard is loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab conducted two attacks targeting Somali security forces in southern Somalia on December 24 and 25. Militants ambushed a minibus near Baidoa, Bay region on December 24, killing three soldiers and wounding seven others. Al Shabaab also attacked a military outpost near Hudur town, Bakool region on December 25, killing three soldiers and wounding dozens more.[5]
  • Al Shabaab gunmen killed a military prosecutor in Boosaso, Puntland region on December 25. Militants have assassinated three government officials in Boosaso in the past two weeks. Puntland security forces responded to the assassination by arresting dozens of suspected al Shabaab militants on December 26.[6]
  • Election officials announced on December 26 that the Somali presidential election will be delayed for a fourth time amid allegations of fraud and voter intimidation. The election, most recently scheduled for December 28, will now take place on January 24. Somalia’s Parliament is responsible for electing the country’s president. Somalia’s new parliament is expected to be sworn in on December 28 in Mogadishu. Election delays and disputes have delayed the swearing-in, which was originally scheduled for December 15.[7]
  • Jubbaland security forces backed by Kenyan forces attacked an al Shabaab base in Kismayo, Lower Juba region on December 27. The Jubbaland forces reportedly suffered heavy casualties.[8] 
  • Al Shabaab militants destroyed a communications tower in Tarba village, Wajir county, Kenya on December 24. The militants also killed two soldiers and destroyed two vehicles. Al Shabaab is conducting a campaign to disrupt communications networks in eastern Kenya.[9]
  • Somali media accused the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) of killing two civilians in KM 60 village, Lower Shabelle region on December 27. Troops fired on civilians after a remote-controlled IED exploded under an AMISOM convoy. AMISOM forces sparked popular backlash by erroneously targeting civilians in Lower Shabelle region on December 17 and 18 in Qoryooley and Marka town.[10] 


[1] AQAP claimed attacks against al Houthi-Saleh forces in western al Bayda, Telegram, December 26-27, 2016; and ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claims mortar attack and IED attack on al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qifa, al Bayda, Dawaal Haq, December 25 and 27, 2016.
[2] AQAP claimed attacks against southern security forces, Telegram, December 25 and 27, 2016; “Set the army in the city of Lauder is exposed to an improvised explosive device targeting,” Aden Lang, December 25, 2016,; “The assassination attempt to Director General of the Directorate of Shibam result in the killing of two of his companions (updated),” Aden Lang, December 25, 2016,; and “Yemen president visits former Qaeda bastion,” Yahoo news, December 25, 2016,
[3] “27 al Houthis killed and 11 government forces in continuous battles in the west of Shabwa Usaylan,” December 27, 2016,; “Houthi militias crumble under military strikes and resistance in Shabwa,” Aden Land, December 27, 2016,
[4]“Yemen forces recapture Nihm district in Sanaa,” al Arabiya, December 24, 2016,; and “«Legitimacy» continues to advance in Nihm,” Aden Lang, December 27, 2016,
[5] “Three killed in Al Shaabab attack near Hudur town,” Shabelle News, December 25, 2016,; and “Three killed in an Al-Shaabab ambush near Baidoa, police,” Goobjoog, December 24, 2016,
[6] Abdiqani Hassan and Feisal Omar, “Al Shabaab Militants shoot prosecuter dead in Somalia’s Puntland,” Reuters, December 25, 2016,; “Dozens arrested in Bosaso for Army prosecutors killing,” Shabelle News, December 26, 2016,; and “Gunmen kills Puntland presidential director in Bossaso,” Goobjoog, December 25, 2016,
[7] “Somalia to Delay Presidential Election for 4th Time, Official Says,” Voice of America, December 26, 2016,; and “Somalia swears in new Parliament in Mogadishu, security beefed up,” Garowe Online, December 27, 2016,
[8] “Allied Forces raid Shabaab base near Kismayo town,” Shabelle News, December 27, 2016,
[9] “Two killed, Safaricom mas destroyed as suspected Al-Shabaab fighters attack a village in Wajir,” Goobjoog, December 24, 2016,
[10] “AMISOM troops gunned down civilians in Somalia,” Shabelle News, December 27, 2016,
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