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: Al Houthi-Salafist clashes kill twenty people; fighting between Yemeni soldiers and al Qaeda-linked militants kills seven people; explosive device found on the property of Yemeni Defense Minister and defused

Horn of Africa: Assault on police outpost in northeastern Kenya kills at least seven Kenyans; Human Rights Watch accuses the Kenyan military of human rights abuses; al Shabaab militant kills four Somali civilians; clashes between Islamists and local troops in Puntland kill at least seven people; pirates reinforce bases in Puntland

Yemen Security Brief

  • Twenty people were killed in clashes between al Houthi militants and Salafists in Mustaba, a city in northwestern Hajjah governorate close to the Saudi border.[1]
  • Three Yemeni soldiers and four al Qaeda-linked militants were killed in fighting near Zinjibar, capital of Abyan governorate. The soldiers were killed as they attempted to load a mortar shell and it exploded; the Islamist militants were killed in gun battles with Yemeni troops northeast of Zinjibar.[2]
  • An explosive device was placed near the home of Minister of Defense Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed in Sana’a. The bomb was discovered by a guard on January 9 and a team was brought in to defuse it. The assassination attempt was linked to severe tension between General Nasser Ahmed and leaders of the General People’s Congress, the ruling party in Yemen.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • At least seven Kenyans were killed in an assault on a police outpost in Gerille, in northeast Kenya. The attack was suspected to have been carried out by al Shabaab militants, and was carried out late January 11. Gerille is about 60 miles from the Somali border. According to the regional commissioner, Wenslas Ongayo, “They killed three administration police officers, a police reservist and two civil servants working with the registration department." Local sources indicate that a schoolteacher was killed in the crossfire. Six Kenyans, including three local officials, were reported missing by Kenyan police.[4]
  • Human Rights Watch has accused the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and security forces of a series of human rights abuses, including beatings, arbitrary detentions, rape, and looting. A KDF spokesman announced that the military would look into these allegations.[5]
  • According to local eyewitnesses, an al Shabaab militant deliberately opened fire on civilians in Elasha-Biyaha, about 10 miles south of Mogadishu. At least four civilians were killed and many more wounded.[6]
  • At least seven people were killed in clashes between Puntland troops and Islamist militants loyal to arms dealer and al Shabaab commander Sheikh Mohamed Said Atom in the mountainous Galgala area of northern Somalia. The fighting was initiated by an Islamist assault on the Laaf and Suqure settlements, which was resisted by Puntland soldiers. Somali sources have indicated that al Shabaab fighters, fleeing from the KDF in southern Somalia, have joined up with Sheikh Atom’s fighters in Puntland.[7]
  • Somali officials have reported that pirates have steadily been returning to Puntland, reinforcing their bases in the Karkar and Bari regions. From there, it is suspected, they plan to launch renewed hijackings. This, they argue, combined with increased al Shabaab infiltration into Puntland, does not bode well for stability in the region.[8]

[2] “7 Dead As Yemen Troops Clash with Qaeda Suspects,” AFP, January 12, 2012. Available:
[3] “Sources: Explosive Device Planted Next to Defense Minister’s House Defused,” al Masdar Online, January 12, 2012. Available:
[4] Noor Ali and Daud Yussuf, “Gunmen Storm Kenyan Police Camp, Kill Seven,” Reuters, January 12, 2012. Available:
[5] “Group: Security Forces Abusing Somalis in Kenya,” AP, January 12, 2012. Available:
[6] “Somalia: Al-Shabab Militants Shot Four in a Afgoye City,” Mareeg Online, January 12, 2012. Available:
[7] “Fighting Breaks out in Galgala Mountains,” SomaliaReport, January 12, 2012. Available:
[8] “Pirates Return to Old Bases in Puntland,” SomaliaReport, January 12, 2012. Available:
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