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: Gunmen assassinate security officer in Hadramawt; gunmen and former Yemeni Republican Guard soldiers fight in Ma’rib; al Houthis attack tribesmen in Arhab; Southern Movement fighters clash with Yemeni forces in Lahij; Yemeni troops clash with protesters in Shabwah; Iran denies that Yemeni sources found the body of a kidnapped Iranian diplomat

Horn of Africa: U.S. targets al Shabaab commander in airstrike; Puntland forces clash with al Shabaab in Bari region; al Shabaab attacks government troops in Mogadishu; Somali government forces remove roadblocks in Afgoi corridor

Yemen Security Brief

  • Gunmen killed Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Amir al Mahthouthi, a senior Yemeni security officer, outside his home in Wadi al Ayn district in Hadramawt governorate on January 26.[1] 
  • Clashes erupted in al Hudaydah governorate between soldiers from the former Yemeni Republican Guard and gunmen aligned with Ma’rib governorate’s security director on January 26. The fighting killed Ma’rib’s security director.[2]
  • Al Houthi fighters launched attacks against tribesmen in five separate locations in Arhab governorate on January 27, resulting in dozens of fatalities and injuries.[3]
  • Southern Movement fighters clashed with Yemeni forces in Habilain city in Lahij governorate on January 26, wounding one soldier and one civilian.[4]
  • Yemeni troops clashed with armed protesters from the Southern Movement calling for independence in Ataq city in Shabwah governorate, on January 27. Two protesters and two soldiers were wounded.[5]
  • Sources in Yemen claimed that the decapitated body of an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in July was found in Ma’rib governorate on January 25, but the Iranian embassy denied the body belonged to the diplomat.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The U.S. military launched a missile strike targeting an al Shabaab militant in Hawai near Barawe in Lower Shabelle region. U.S. officials have not yet confirmed the effectiveness of the January 26 strike or the identity of the target. Local residents reported that an al Shabaab leader, identified as Sahal Iskudhuq, and four others were killed in the strike as they were travelling in a convoy. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s Twitter account acknowledged the strike, calling the reported killing “another blow” to al Shabaab.[7] 
  • Puntland defense forces launched an offensive on al Shabaab bases near Galgala in the Bari region of northeastern Somalia. Puntland’s acting security minister, Khalif Issa Mudan, reported that the assault, carried out on January 25, successfully captured al Shabaab bases, killed three al Shabaab militants, and wounded seven others. The Puntland forces also recovered ammunition, explosives, and medicine during the offensive.[8]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked Somali government forces on January 26 in the Heliwa district of Mogadishu. The militants exchanged gunfire with the Somali soldiers before quickly fleeing.  Reports indicate that at least five government soldiers were killed in the attack.[9]
  • Somali security forces cleared more than a dozen illegal roadblocks from the primary road linking Afgoi and Mogadishu on January 26.  Somali police chief General Abdihakim Dahir Said confirmed that more than twenty armed militants were apprehended in the operation.[10]      
[1] “Yemen gunmen shoot dead senior security officer,” Reuters, January 26, 2014. Available:
[2] “Ma’rib’s Director of Security killed and 5 wounded including soldiers in clashes between gunmen and forces from the 10th Brigade in al Hudaydah,” al Masdar Online, January 26, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Source: Dozens killed and wounded in violent battles between tribesmen and al Houthis gunmen in Arhab north of Sana'a,” al Masdar Online, January 27, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Gunmen besiege the western military sector in Habilain in Lahij, wounding a soldier and a civilian in clashes between the army and al Hirak in Radfan,” Akbaralyom, January 27, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “4 wounded in Yemen clashes with separatists,” AFP, January 27, 2014. Available:
[6] “Yemeni official says diplomat's body found, but Iranian report denies it,” Reuters, January 25, 2014. Available:
[7] Abdi Guled, “Somali Militant Killed in Missile Attack,” AP, January 26, 2014. Available:
“US strike ‘targets al-Shabab chief’ in Somalia,” BBC News, January 27, 2014. Available:
[8] “ SSomalia: Puntland forces launch deadly assault on Al Shabaab base, 3 militants killed,” Garowe Online, January 25, 2014. Available:
“Somalia: Puntland forces recover weapons from Al Shabaab hideouts,” Garowe Online, January 26, 2014. Available:
[9] “Al-Shabaab carries out daring daylight attack today in Mogadishu’s Huriwaa District,” Harar24 News, January 26, 2014. Available:
[10] “Somalia: Gov’t Security Forces conduct massive operation to remove roadblocks outside Mogadishu,” RBC Radio, January 26, 2014. Available:
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