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 movement and Saudi government exchange prisoners; explosion kills six and injures 25 in Mokha city, Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian air force kills two al Shabaab officials near Baidoa; Kenyan police arrest 12 al Shabaab suspects near Somali border; IED explosion injures four outside Mogadishu; Somali Prime Minister and Kenyan President reaffirm counterterrorism partnership

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement released a Saudi prisoner in exchange for the release of seven al Houthi prisoners from Saudi Arabia on January 29 and 30. Al Houthi movement official Abdul Qader al Murtada announced the release of Saudi national Moussa Awaji. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) facilitated the exchange by flying Awaji from Sana’a, Yemen to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and flying seven al Houthi members from Riyadh to Sana’a. The Office of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen praised the exchange. This prisoner swap is not part of the prisoner exchange from the Stockholm Agreement.[1]

An improvised explosive device (IED) carried on a motorcycle detonated in Mokha city in Taiz governorate on the southwestern coast of Yemen on January 29. The attack occurred outside the offices of the Abu Dhabi Media Company, killing one TV reporter and injuring another reporter. The Director General of Mokha district stated that the blast killed a total of six people and injured 25 others.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) announced that it killed two senior al Shabaab officials in an airstrike near Baidoa, the capital of Bay region, in southwestern Somalia on January 24. The ENDF named the officials as Abdu Osman, an operations chief, and Abdu Abdusalem, an explosives specialist. The airstrike killed 35 militants in total.[3]

Kenyan police arrested 12 al Shabaab suspects near the Kenyan-Somali border on January 29. Police arrested ten of the suspects at the Dadaab refugee camp in Garissa County, northeastern Kenya.[4]

Unidentified militants detonated an IED outside Mogadishu, the Somali capital, on January 29. The explosion wounded four civilians, including two foreign engineers.[5]

Somali Prime Minister Ali Hassan Khaire and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta reaffirmed their countries’ ongoing counterterrorism partnership during a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, on January 29. The Somali and Kenyan ministers of foreign affairs also renewed the Joint Commission of Cooperation, an agreement that focuses on strengthening economic and counterterrorism ties, in Mandera, northeastern Kenya on January 29.[6]

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[1] “”Exchange of Prisoners between Saudi Arabia and Yemeni al Houthi group,” Al Bawaba, January 30, 2019,; and ICRC Yemen, Twitter, January 30, 2019,

[2] “A motorcycle exploded in popular market in the city of al Mokha,” Aden Lng, January 29, 2019,; and “42 dead and injured: the vicitms of a motorcycle explosion at a popular cafe in the city of Mokha,” 26 Sep, January 29, 2019,

[3] “Ethiopian air force kills more than al Shabaab in Somalia,” Radio Kulmiye, January 30, 2019,

[4] “Al-Shabaab suspects arrested on Kenya-Somalia border,” Radio Shabelle, January 30, 2019,

[5] “Somalia: Foreign engineers injured near Mogadishu,” Mareeg, January 30, 2019,

[6] “Somalia, Kenya agreed to joint efforts in trade and war on terror,” Garowe, January 30, 2019,; and “Somalia PM lauds strong partnership with Kenya on security, development,” Mustaqbal Radio, January 30, 2019,

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