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 releases U.S. citizen from captivity but continues to detain three more; French officials authenticate video depicting kidnapped French citizen; Ansar al Sharia militants attack al Houthis in Abyan

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants capture town in North Eastern Province, Kenya; Somali government announces new military operation; Ethiopian forces kill Kenyan guard in Eastern Province, Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • The al Houthi movement is reportedly holding three U.S. citizens captive in the capital, Sana’a, after having released one U.S. citizen following Omani mediation on June 1. A spokesperson from Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government reported on May 31 that the U.S. is currently engaged in talks with the al Houthi movement in Muscat, Oman.[1]
  • French officials authenticated a video depicting a French citizen Isabelle Prime, who has been held captive by unidentified militants in Yemen since her kidnapping in the capital, Sana’a, on February 24. Prime appeals to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and French President Francois Hollande to secure her release in the video.[2]
  • Ansar al Sharia militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) targeting the al Houthi movement in Shaqra, Abyan, on May 30. Ansar al Sharia militants had also detonated a car bomb targeting the al Houthi movement on May 29, likewise in Shaqra. There are no reliable casualty reports available from the attacks. Ansar al Sharia claimed credit for both attacks via Twitter.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Suspected al Shabaab militants were reported to have taken over a town in Mandera county, North Eastern Province, Kenya, on June 1. The men were first sighted on May 28 and reportedly have been roaming the Mandera county area.[4]
  • The Somali government announced on May 30, that the Somali National Army (SNA) would undertake an operation to clear illegal roadblocks between Marka, Lower Shabelle region, and Mogadishu.[5]
  • Ethiopian forces killed a Kenyan guard in Moyale, Eastern Province, Kenya on May 31. The Ethiopian forces claimed that they were pursuing Oromo Liberation Front rebels when they crossed into Kenya.[6]

[1] “Arab war planes bomb Yemen; exiles report U.S.-al Houthi talks,” Reuters, May 31, 2015. Available:
“US official: 1 of several Americans held in Yemen released,” Big Story, June 1, 2015. Available:
[2] “France says Yemen hostage video is genuine,” Reuters, June 1, 2015. Available:
“France confirms video showing kidnapped French citizen,” Barakish, June 1, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Houthis killed in attacks in Shaqra Abyan,” Arabic People, May 31, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
Additional sources available upon request
[4] Manase Otsialo, “Al-Shabaab’ gunmen take over Mandera village,” Daily Nation, June 1. Available:
[5] Abdirazak Mohamud Tuuryare, “Somalia Army to take action roadblocks in road links Marka and Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, May 30. Available:
[6] “Ethiopian soldiers kill a watchman in Moyale,” The Star, May 31. Available:
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