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. CENTCOM acknowledges civilian casualties in January 29 raid in Yemen; former president Saleh calls on GCC to intervene in Yemen; AQAP detonates IED targeting Emirati-backed forces withdrawing from Abyan governorate; popular resistance forces advance in western al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: al Shabaab militants raid police camp in northeastern Kenya; al Shabaab militants ambush security checkpoint in Puntland; ISIS-linked militants decapitate three hostages in Puntland

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. Central Command acknowledged on February 1 that U.S. forces killed civilian non-combatants during a January 29 raid on an AQAP headquarters in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen. The reported death of civilian women and children during the raid has sparked backlash in Yemen and the international community. Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis stated that female combatants participated in the fight.  Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi called the operation an “extrajudicial killing”. AQAP produced propaganda about the civilian casualties. U.S. military officials told Reuters that the raid lacked sufficient intelligence, preparation, and backup.[1]
  • Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh spoke before the al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council in Sana’a city on February 1. Saleh called for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to intervene in the Yemeni civil war to find an appropriate political solution and select a new interim president. Saleh’s statement is his first call for GCC intervention since the GCC facilitated Saleh’s resignation and the appointment of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2011.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in Amsurrah, Lawder district, northern Abyan governorate on February 2. The IED struck al Hizam security forces as they traveled toward Aden city after withdrawing from Mount Akad, Mount Yusef, and al Ayan village in Lawder district. The blast killed six al Hizam troops. AQAP militants seized several checkpoints abandoned by al Hizam forces in Lawder district, according to local residents. Local sources have misidentified anti-AQAP tribal militias as AQAP in the past, however.[3]
  • Anti-al Houthi popular resistance forces seized an area near al Jawf village, Rada’a district, western al Bayda governorate from al Houthi-Saleh forces on February 2. AQAP militants may have participated in the attack.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants raided a Kenyan police camp in Mandera town in northeastern Kenya on February 1.  Militants killed two police officers and destroyed 12 vehicles. Militants also sabotaged communications devices and stole vehicles, weapons, and voter registration kits. Al Shabaab frequently targets police forces and communications infrastructure in Kenyan counties that border Somalia.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed Puntland security forces at a checkpoint in Boosaaso, Bari region in Puntland, northern Somalia on February 1. Militants killed two soldiers and wounded six others. Al Shabaab is most active in southern and central Somalia but maintains a small operational presence in Puntland. Puntland security forces launched an offensive to drive al Shabaab from the region after al Shabaab militants seized the town of Gara’ad in Mudug region in March 2016.[6]
  • ISIS-linked militants decapitated three hostages captured during an ambush on a passenger bus near Qandala town, Bari region in Puntland, northern Somalia on January 28. Local residents found the bodies along a road near Qandala on February 1. Pro-ISIS Amaq News Agency claimed the militants executed three Somali soldiers among the hostages. Local officials did not confirm the identities of the victims found on February 1. A small contingent of ISIS-linked militants operates from camps in the Galgala Mountains area of Bari region. The group temporarily seized Qandala town in December 2016.[7]


[1] Samuel Oakford, Twitter, February 1, 2017,; and “U.S. military probing more possible civilian deaths in Yemen raid,” Reuters, February 2, 2017,
[2] “Ousted President Saleh speaks on courting the Gulf Cooperation Council,” Yemen 24, February 2, 2017,, “Saleh calls on Saudi Arabia to intervene and stop the war in Yemen,” Aden Tomorrow, February 1, 2017,
[3] “A security source: 6 death toll from a bomb explosion at a security force pulled out of the al Ayan in Lawder,” Aden Tomorrow, February 2, 2017,; “Al Hizam security forces of Abyan withdraw from their location and leave to Aden,” Aden Lang, February 2, 2017; “The withdrawal of a battalion of al Hizam security in Lawder,” Aden Tomorrow, February 2, 2017,; and “Al Qaeda controls the security point in Lawder,” Aden Tomorrow, February 2, 2017,
[4] “Al Bayda: Resistance clears one of the sites of the coup militias in Qifa in Rada’a,” Aden Tomorrow, February 2, 2017,
[5] “Kenyan police officers feared dead in suspected al Shabaab attack in Mandera,” Goobjoog News, February 2, 2017,
[6] Al Shabaab militants ambush army checkpoint in Boosaaso, Twitter, February 1, 2017,; and “Puntland ends anti-al Shabaab military operations, over 200 militants killed,” Horseed Media, March 24, 2016,
[7] “IS hostages in Somalia found beheaded,” Sky News, February 2, 2017,
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