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: Fighting continues in Zinjibar; Yemeni guards kill one protesting government employee near Aden; French-Algerian journalist strangled in hotel room in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Somalia’s prime minister announces start of military operation against al Shabaab; Ethiopia seizes Beledweyne; one person killed and three civilians injured in battle between al Shabaab militants and TFG and AMISOM troops; landmine in Mandera, Kenya injures three civilians; clashes between Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a and al Shabaab militants kill at least 10 people and wound 20 others in Galgudud region; gunman kills Somali refugee leader in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya; al Shabaab releases four new statements describing recent attacks, a death threat, and accounts of the enforcement of Islamic law

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni troops killed five al Qaeda-linked militants in Zinjibar in Abyan governorate on January 3. A Yemeni security official stated that the Yemeni army shelled the group and exchanged gunfire. Clashes in Zinjibar between militants and Yemeni troops killed two militants and two soldiers on December 31. Four militants and three soldiers were wounded in the fighting. The clashes occurred amid protests staged by hundreds of Zinjibar residents earlier in the day demanding an end to the recent violence. Residents had marched from Aden to Zinjibar and were stopped in al Kod by al Qaeda-linked militants.[1]
  • Yemeni guards killed a Central Agency for Control and Audit employee during a protest near Aden on January 2. A security official reported that the employee was killed at the gate of the building.[2]
  • French-Algerian journalist Mohammed Sagheer was found strangled with electrical wire in al Maali Hotel in Sana’a on January 2. Yemeni officials are still unclear on why the journalist was targeted.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali announced the start of Operation to Restore Peace and Stability to Somalia on December 31. He said in an emailed statement: “Today, the government and the people of Somalia have stood up against the evils of al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab terrorists… Our people have suffered harshly under their occupation. Today, we have initiated the process to liberate the tyranny of al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab from Somalia.”[4]
  • Ethiopian troops, along with Somali government troops and allied militias, seized control of Beledweyne, a strategic town in Hiraan region, on December 31. A BBC Somali reporter said that 20 people were killed during the fighting. Eyewitnesses reported the use of heavy artillery and armored vehicles. Locals reported that the troops were moving toward Bulobarde in Hiraan region. Ethiopian, TFG, and AMISOM troops clashed with al Shabaab militants on January 2 near Beledweyne in Hiraan region in Somalia killing three people and wounding one other. It is still unclear if the killed and injured persons were members of al Shabaab.[5]
  • A landmine targeting Kenyan army vehicles in Mandera in Kenya near the Somali border injured three civilians on January 3. The Kenyan army reported arresting 10 local suspects following the explosion.[6]
  • One person was killed and three civilians were injured from clashes between al Shabaab militants and TFG and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops on January 3 in Daynile district in Mogadishu.[7]
  • Fighting between al Shabaab militants and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) on January 1 killed at least 10 people and injured at least 20 others. The clashes occurred near Dhusamareb, the capital of Galgudud region in central Somalia. Both ASWJ and al Shabaab officials claimed victory.[8]
  • The spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Vivian Tan confirmed that a refugee leader in Ifo camp in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya was killed by a gunman on January 1. Kenyan police chief Leo Nyongesa suspected that the attack was carried out by an al Shabaab sympathizer.[9]
  • Al Shabaab released four new statements through its media wing al Kata’ib Media Foundation on December 31. Two of the statements discuss alleged attacks on Kenyan troops in Bilis Qoqani, located southwest of Afmadow and Taabta in southern Somalia. Another statement announced the group’s ruling to kill Nur Jilany Adam, a member of al Hisbah in Lower Shabelle region. The last statement was an account of al Shabaab’s decision to enforce death by stoning for a rape-suspect and to cut off an alleged criminal’s hand for theft in Middle Shabelle region.[10]

[1] “Five Islamists Killed in Southern Yemen Fighting,” Reuters, January 3, 2012. Available:
“Islamist Fighters Halt Yemen Peace March-Witnesses,” Reuters, January 1, 2012. Available:
 “Two Yemen Soldiers Killed in Clashes with Qaeda Suspects,” AFP, December 31, 2011. Available:
[2] “Yemeni Employee Killed as Guards Break Up Strike,” Daily Star, January 3, 2012. Available:
[3] Ahmed al Haj, “French Journalist Found Dead in Yemen,” AP, January 2, 2011. Available:
[4] Nandini Sukumar, “Somali Government Steps Up Efforts Against Islamic Militants,” Bloomberg, December 31, 2011. Available:
[5] “3 People Killed in Beledweyne Central Somalia Today,” Mareeg Online, January 2, 2012. Available:
Solomon Moore, “Ethiopia Makes Gains Against Militants in Somalia,” Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2012. Available:
“Ethiopian Troops Capture Beledweyne from Somalia Militants,” BBC News, December 31, 2011. Available:
[6] “Blast at Kenyan Army Injures Three,” Mareeg Online, January 3, 2012. Available:
[7] “Nightfall Battle Takes Place in Mogadishu,” Mareeg Online, January 3, 2012. Available:
[8] “10 Dead, 20 Others Injured in Battle in Central Somalia,” Mareeg Online, January 2, 2012. Available:
[9] “Somali Refugee Leader Shot Dead in Kenya Camp,” AFP, January 2, 2012. Available:
[10] “Al-Katai’b Media Presents Four New Statements from Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahidin,” Jihadology, January 2, 2012. Available:
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