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: Coalition airstrikes target military installations in Sana’a; Al Jazeera correspondent and crew believed kidnapped in Taiz; militants attack Aden airport security; GPC official assassinated in Taiz

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants launch complex attack on hotel complex in Mogadishu, Somalia; al Shabaab spokesman denies Kenyan claims of leader’s death; KDF regains full control of AMISOM base in Gedo region, Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Saudi-led coalition continued its airstrike campaign on Sana’a, the al Houthi-held capital city, on January 21. Airstrikes reportedly targeted key military installations in al Nahdayn district and near the presidential palace. The frequency of airstrikes has increased over the past month as the coalition aims to degrade al Houthi-Saleh missile launch capabilities.[1]
  • Al Jazeera announced on January 21 that three of its staff members were likely kidnapped in Taiz city. The news agency lost contact with correspondent Hamdi al Bokari and his crew on January 18. No group has claimed responsibility for the team’s disappearance, but Al Jazeera indicated that it is in contact with “related parties” to secure the team’s release. Taiz is a major conflict zone and has attracted a variety of belligerents, including militants linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS). Combatants in Taiz frequently cut off access to the city, contributing to a growing humanitarian crisis.[2]
  • Militants attacked security personnel at Aden airport on January 22. The gunmen reportedly approached the airport in two vehicles and launched a rocket-propelled grenade at security guards before opening fire. Airport security forces pursued the attackers as they fled. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government is struggling to secure its temporary capital amid a series of assassinations and attacks on infrastructure.[3]
  • Unidentified gunmen reportedly assassinated General People’s Congress (GPC) official Mohammad Abdu al Mikhlafi in al Qubbah in central Taiz city. Pro-al Houthi media outlets denounced the assassination as a crime.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants carried out a coordinated attack on a restaurant and adjoining hotel on the populated Liido Beach in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on January 21.  One militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) in front of the restaurant before at least five more gunmen, wearing suicide vests, opened fire on beachgoers.  Early reports count at least 20 casualties, including the attackers and several guests at a graduation party and wedding. Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) forces responded to the attack and secured the site, and NISA claimed to capture the militants’ alleged leader. Al Shabaab immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.[5] 
  • An al Shabaab spokesman denied Kenyan claims that Maalim Janow, the reported leader of the January 15 El Adde base attack, was killed by a Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) airstrike on January 21. The spokesman also denied Janow’s participation in the raid and insinuated that the Kenyan government was releasing propaganda to boost morale and calm citizens in the aftermath of the attack, which killed at least 60 Kenyan soldiers. Al Shabaab also stated that the 12 Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) soldiers captured in the El Adde attack are imprisoned in Jilib, Middle Jubba region, Somalia.[6]
  • KDF commander General Samson Mwathethe announced on January 22 that KDF forces have regained complete control over the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base located in El Adde, Gedo region, Somalia.  KDF forces conducted nearly a week of intense ground and air operations targeting at al Shabaab militants in the region in an effort to drive the militants away from El Adde town. General Mwathethe did not comment on the exact number of Kenyan soldiers killed in al Shabaab’s attack on the El Adde base on January 15.[7]

[1] “Video .. Huge explosions in a weapons store in al Nahdayn after violent strikes,”, January 21, 2016,
[2] “Al Jazeera calls for immediate release of abducted Al Jazeera crew in Yemen,” Al Jazeera, January 21, 2016,
“Al Jazeera team in Yemen missing in Taiz,” Al Jazeera, January 22, 2016,
[3] “Armed attack on Aden airport,” Ababiil, January 22, 2016,
[4] “Breaking .. Assassination of ‘Al Mikhlafi’ in the center of Taiz governorate,” Ababiil, January 22, 2016,
Ansar Allah Alyemen, Twitter, January 22, 2016,
[5] Greg Botelho, “Somalia hotel attack: Terrorists kill at least 20 people in Mogadishu,” CNN, January 22, 2016,; Mohamed Olad, “Al-Shabab Claims Responsibility for Mogadishu Restaurant Attack,” Voice of America, January 22, 2016,
[6] “Kenyan military says mastermind behind Somalia attack believed killed,” Reuters Africa, January 22, 2016,
Adow Mohamed, “Captured KDF soldiers moved to new hideout,” Hiiraan News, January 22, 2016,
[7] Paul Richardson, “Kenyan forces regain control of Somali camp,” Bloomberg via Hiiraan News, January 22, 2016,
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