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: Grenade attack injures eight people at Taiz protest; clashes between security forces and Southern Movement protestors leave one person dead; demonstrations continue in Sana’a; Interior Ministry launches campaign to collect illegal weapons; EU official calls for dialogue between government and protesters

Horn of Africa: TFG soldier kills civilian in accidental shooting; al Shabaab graduates hundreds of fighters, announces arrest of AMISOM spies; al Shabaab militants arrest pirate leaders; Puntland security forces arrest military chief of SSC militia; al Shabaab communiqué details appointment of new governor in Banadir region; AMISOM spokesman apologizes for civilian casualties; Somaliland police arrest TFG official; UN official stresses the need for a political solution in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • An unidentified attacker threw a hand grenade at anti-government protestors camped in Hurriya Square in Taiz, injuring eight people. Two of those wounded may have died. An estimated 10,000 protestors have gathered in Hurriya Square, and a similar number of government loyalists are assembling in downtown Taiz. The demonstrations are reported to be the largest throughout Yemen, with up to 30,000 people protesting.[1]
  • The Southern Movement organized protests in Aden. Security forces and anti-government protestors clashed in the Mansora district, leaving one person dead following an exchange of what an unnamed official called “random gunfire.” Demonstrators set fire to cars and government buildings in the city. Yemeni Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi was in Aden meeting with local government and security officials.[2]
  • SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, reported that a “hand to hand” scuffle broke out in Sana’a when anti-government protestors clashed with pro-regime supporters near al Rabat Street. Security forces were unable to control the crowd, so soldiers fired into the air to disperse protestors. SABA News also cited an unidentified source at the Ministry of Interior who denied reports that a protestor had been killed in Sana’a. The New York Times reported that security forces stood by while government supporters, many of whom are believed to have been paid to protest in support of the regime, routed anti-Saleh protestors.[3]
  • The Yemeni Ministry of Interior launched a nation-wide effort to confiscate illegal firearms. Mohamed al Qiari, an expert on weapons and tribal warfare in Yemen, told the Yemen Observer that “if it [the campaign] continues then it will lead to security and stability. But if these campaigns are temporary or only during tough times then it will not fulfill its objectives.”[4]
  • Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, issued a statement calling for the “calm and restraint of all parties,” in which she expressed concern about the rising level of violence in Yemen and urged that “the peaceful expression of the people’s concerns should be met with dialogue.”[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldier in the Hodan district of Mogadishu fired on a passenger bus that ignored orders to stop, killing one civilian.[6]
  • Sheikh Mohamed Abu Abdalla, al Shabaab’s governor in the Lower Shabelle region, presided over a graduation ceremony in the village of Lafole for hundreds of al Shabaab fighters finished with training. Abdalla and other al Shabaab officials present encouraged the graduates to do their part in the war against AMISOM and TFG forces. At the ceremony, Abdalla announced that al Shabaab militants had recently captured several AMISOM spies, although he did not provide further details.[7]
  • Al Shabaab militants in Harardhere arrested four pirate leaders after the pirates refused to pay a twenty percent tax on ransoms received. Reuters cited pirate sources who claimed that they had been close to finalizing a multi-million dollar ransom agreement before al Shabaab interference derailed the negotiations.[8]
  • The Somaliland Press reported that Puntland security forces arrested Yasin Ali Tamaad, military commander of the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) administration, after he returned from a trip to Mogadishu where he is suspected to have attempted to solicit weapons and funding from both the TFG and al Shabaab.[9]
  • Al Shabaab issued a communiqué through its media arm, al Kata'ib Foundation for Media Production, announcing that Sheikh Mohamed Hassan Omar Aburahman replaced Sheikh Ali Jabal as governor of the Banadir region. The appointment ceremony was attended by “masses of clan leaders and society elites” as well as al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage and other al Shabaab officials.[10]
  • AMISOM spokesman Major Brigye Bahuko told Shabelle Media Network that AMISOM forces deeply regret the casualties inflicted on the civilian population by TFG soldiers, adding that AMISOM will not tolerate further incidents. Bahuko also denied allegations that AMISOM soldiers had refused medical aid to injured civilians, saying that “to refuse treatment to suffering civilians would defeat the very purpose of our mission to help Somalia get back on its feet after decades of anarchy.” Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohmed Rage called the statement meaningless and false, adding that civilian casualties are rare in the areas under al Shabaab control.[11]
  • Somaliland police chief Ilmi Roble Furre told reporters that Somaliland police arrested TFG deputy minister of public works and housing Abdirashid Mohamed Ali shortly after he landed at Hargeisa airport in Somaliland.[12]
  • UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valeire Amos issued a statement warning that Somalia may face a major crisis if relief and drought aid do not arrive soon. In the press release, Amos said “I cannot stress enough the importance in Somalia of finding a political solution. Only that will enable the people of Somalia to live in peace and dignity.”[13]

[1] “Grenade Thrown at Yemen Protestors, 8 Wounded,” Reuters, February 18, 2011. Available:
“Tens of Thousands Protest Across Yemen,” Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2011. Available:
“Protestor Shot Dead on Yemen’s ‘Friday of Rage’,” MSNBC, February 18, 2011. Available:
[2] “VP Meets with Leadership of Aden Province,” Saba News, February 17, 2011. Available:
“One Killed in Protests in Southern Yemen,” Reuters, February 18, 2011. Available:
“Protestor Dies in South Yemen, 8 Wounded,” Reuters, February 17, 2011. Available:
“Violence Marks ‘Friday of Rage’ Across Yemen,” AP, February 18, 2011. Available:
[3] “Hand to Hand Scuffle Between Demonstrators in Sana’a,” Saba News, February 17, 2011. Available:
“Yemen: Security Forces Assaulting Activists,” Human Rights Watch, February 14, 2011. Available:
Laura Kasinof, “Yemen Protestors Face Off for 8th Day,” New York Times, February 18, 2011. Available:
“Ministry Denies Protestor Killed in Capital, Criticizes al Jazeera Untrue Report,” Saba News, February 17, 2011. Available:
[4] Majid al Kibsi, “Nationwide Clampdown on Illegal Firearms,” Yemen Observer, February 17, 2011. Available:
[5] Catherine Ashton, “Statement by the Spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on Yemen,” EU, February 17, 2011. Available:
[6] “Somali Soldier Shoots a Civilian Bus, Killing One,” Shabelle Media Network, February 17, 2011. Available:
[7] “Al Shabaab Wraps Up Training for Hundreds of its Fighters,” Shabelle Media Network, February 17, 2011. Available:
“Al Shabaab Captured People Alleged of Working with AMISOM,” Shabelle Media Network, February 18, 2011. Available:
[8] “Somali Rebels Detain Several Pirate Gang Leaders,” Reuters, February 17, 2011. Available:
[9] “Puntland Officials Arrest SSC Terrorist Commander,” Somaliland Press, February 18, 2011. Available:
[10] “Shabaab Appoints New Banadir Region Governor,” SITE Intel Group, February 17, 2011. Available at SITE
[11] “AMISOM: We are Sorry for the Civilian Casualties Committed by TFG Soldiers,” Shabelle Media Network, February 18, 2011. Available:
“AMISOM Says We Never Refuse Treatment of Injured Somali Civilians,” Mareeg Online, February 17, 2011. Available:
[12] “Somaliland Police Seizes TFG Minister,” Shabelle Media Network, February 17, 2011. Available:
[13] “UN Official Warns of Humanitarian Disaster as Drought Ravages Somalia and Kenya,” UN News Centre, February 17, 2011. Available:
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