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: MSF calls for investigation into January 10 attack on hospital in Sa’ada; airstrike hits home of prominent judge in Sana’a; Prime Minister Bahah returns to Aden

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants re-enter two towns in southern Somalia after KDF troops vacate; IED injures trader in Kirinyaga County, central Kenya; Somali MPs draft formal protest of Kenyan air raid; al Shabaab releases video showing ambush of Kenyan police in Lamu County, Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) called for an investigation into a January 10 attack on one of its hospitals in Sa’ada governorate in northern Yemen. The organization appealed to the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC), which investigates international humanitarian law-based claims under the Geneva Convention. MSF facilities and personnel have suffered several attacks in recent months, including an airstrike on an MSF ambulance in Sa’ada on January 21.[1]
  • A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit the home of a prominent judge in Sana’a on January 24, killing the judge and seven members of his family. Judge Yahya Rubaid served on an al Houthi-appointed national security court and oversaw cases against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as well as the al Houthis’ political opponents, including internationally recognized Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.[2]
  • Prime Minister Khaled Bahah returned to Aden with his cabinet on January 25, in an effort to establish a permanent presence in Yemen’s temporary capital. Bahah and other government ministers fled Aden in October 2015 after an ISIS-claimed attack on their temporary headquarters.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Local sources report that al Shabaab militants returned to two towns in southern Somalia after Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) troops withdrew on January 26. KDF forces reportedly vacated military bases near el Adde, Gedo region and Badhadhe, Lower Jubba region.  A KDF spokesperson claimed that the troops were not withdrawing but conducting a routine “operational maneuver.” Local witnesses claim that the troops clashed with al Shabaab militants as they withdrew from the town. Al Shabaab militants attacked an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in el Adde on January 15 and have remained active in the area.[4]  
  • A suspected improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in Sagana, Kirinyaga County in central Kenya on January 24, injuring a trader who sold wine and liquor. Some reports indicate that the device exploded prematurely, possibly indicating that another target was intended. Local officials asserted that the blast produced could have only come from a bomb and speculated that al Shabaab-linked militants were responsible.[5] 
  • Several Somali parliamentarians are drafting a formal resolution condemning KDF bombing raids in Gedo region, Somalia.  The raids, which targeted at al Shabaab militants responsible for the January 15 AMISOM base attack in el Adde, reportedly caused massive damage to livestock, crops, and civilians.  Kenyan bombs reportedly struck 17 villages in the area.[6] 
  • Al Shabaab’s media wing released a new propaganda video showing the ambush and murder of several Kenyan police officers in Lamu County, Kenya.  The video, which is the fifth part in a series entitled “No Protection Except by Belief or Covenant of Security,” was released on social media and jihadist forums on January 25.[7]

[1] Emma Batha, “MSF calls for inquiry into deadly Yemen hospital attack,” Reuters, January 25, 2016,
[2] “Air strike kills Yemeni judge and family: residents,” Reuters, January 25, 2016,
[3] “Yemen PM returns to Aden to reestablish govt,” Al Arabiya English, January 25, 2016,
“Blasts hit Aden hotel used by Yemeni PM,” Al Jazeera, October 6, 2015,
[4] “Kenya troops 'pull out of Somali el-Ade and Badhadhe bases,” BBC Africa, January 26, 2016,
“Al Shabaab Retakes Two Towns in Southwest Somalia Following KDF Withdrawl,” Goobjoog News, January 26, 2016,
[5] George Munene, “Trader injured in Sagana explosion,” Daily Nation, January 26, 2016,
[6] “Somali Federal Parliament prepares a resolution condemning Kenyan air strikes in Gedo,” Goobjoog News, January 25, 2016,
[7] SITE Intelligence Group, January 25, 2015, source available upon request.
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