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: Two Yemeni soldiers and seven militants killed in clashes in Zinjibar; Yemeni soldiers killed in car bombing in Aden; two civilians and two Republican Guard forces injured in clashes in Taiz; Yemeni air force strikes militant targets in Abyan governorate; two killed and fifteen others injured in government raid against militants in Arhab district; tens of thousands of protestors took to streets to demand creation of transitional presidential council; Interior Ministry releases names of 43 suspects in bombing of oil pipelines and power towers; President Saleh’s son voiced support for dialogue between government and opposition parties; UN Security Council reiterates concern over growing instability in Yemen; two prison inmates confess to digging tunnel in which 63 inmates escaped
Horn of Africa: At least one killed and two government soldiers injured in clashes in Mogadishu; government forces clash with al Shabaab in Garbaharay district in southern Somalia; al Shabaab detains group of young men in Kismayo on charges of spying; Al Shabaab describes executions of convicted spies; al Shabaab video focuses AMISOM’s failures in securing Somalia; Pentagon to send $45 million in assistance to AMISOM; Boosaaso residents find beheaded bodies of two Puntland soldiers; four Somali civilians killed by roadside bomb in Mogadishu; UN Security Council reiterates need for restoration and stability in Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemen’s air force launched raids against military sites and regions under control of Islamist militants in Abyan governorate. Dozens of al Qaeda militants were either killed or injured, an army officer told Xinhua. Local residents reported that regional intelligence headquarters sustained massive damage.
- Three Yemeni soldiers, six al Qaeda militants and two civilians died in clashes between the government and Islamist militants in southern port city of Aden, a local military official told Xinhua. 35 others, including 15 soldiers and 20 militants, were wounded. Al Qaeda militants have located outside a main entrance to the city in an effort to wrest the port from government control. Islamist militias have captured two towns and attacked government installations across southern Yemen in recent weeks.
- Two Yemeni soldiers and seven al Qaeda-linked militants died in clashes in the southern coastal town of Zinjibar. The fighting followed an attack on the camp of the 25th Mechanized Brigade in the city.
- A suicide car bomb exploded in Aden governorate on June 24, killing three Yemeni soldiers and wounding ten others. A security source said that the soldiers were patrolling a street when the car bomb exploded.
- Two civilians and two Republican Guard soldiers were injured in clashes between militants, loyal to Hamood Mikhlafi, and security forces in Taiz on June 25. Government forces have been trying to retake buildings under control of militants.
- Two people were killed and fifteen others injured in government raids against tribal militias in Arhab district, 40 km north of Sana’a. Republican Guard forces have been engaged in fighting militants for more than 24 hours in an effort to regain control of a military compound in the district.
- Widespread protests continue in Yemen. A senior aide to the president said, “The president will appear within the next 48 hours despite our fear that the burns on his features and on different parts of his body will be an obstacle…His appearance will not be as the media expects it.” Unidentified sources suggest that the president will offer to transfer his presidential powers to parliament.
- The Yemeni Interior Ministry released a list of 43 members from the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) suspected of bombing oil pipelines and power towers in Ma’rib governorate. The bombings have led to massive fuel shortages and power outages that have increased supply prices. The ministry has ordered all security departments to search for the suspects, and has offered a $10,000 reward (3 million rials) for information leading to their capture.
- Ahmed Saleh, son of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and commander of the Republican Guard, voiced support for the ongoing dialogue between the JMP and Yemeni government to find a solution to the conflict. A statement issued by his office said that Ahmed “expressed his support” for Vice President Abdul Rab Mansour al Hadi’s efforts to reconcile with opposition leaders and “reach a solution to the crisis.”
- The UN Security Council voiced concern over the ongoing violence and political turmoil in Yemen. The council expressed “grave concern at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Yemen” and “urged all the parties to show maximum restraint and to engage in an inclusive political dialogue.”
- Two inmates from al Mukalla prison confessed to digging a tunnel through which 63 inmates escaped on June 15. Reports indicate that the prison’s warden, deputy, and several guards are being questioned over the incident. Yemeni government spokesman Abdul Janadi has recently said that a “renegade military commander” aided the al Qaeda prisoners in their escape.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab apprehended more than ten young men in the town of Kismayo who were suspected of spying for foreign forces. The group was accused of providing information to forces that attacked an al Shabaab base in Qandal on June 23, which killed two militants and injured two others.
- At least one person was killed in clashes today between government soldiers and unidentified militants in Mogadishu, witnesses said. Two government soldiers were wounded in the incident.
- Government forces and al Shabaab militants exchanged fire in Garbaharay district of the Gedo region in southern Somalia. No casualties have been reported.
- Al Shabaab issued seven communiqués between June 17 and June 20 on jihadist forums, which reported on the group’s military activity and civilian affairs in the regions of Banadir, Gedo, Hiraan and Lower Shabelle. In the reports, al Shabaab announced the execution of two convicted spies in Daynille district of Mogadishu and the stoning of a convicted rapist in Hiraan region. The report said that hundreds of spectators attended the executions. The first spy was identified as 21-year-old Adel Muhammad Hussain, and the second as 19-year-old Abbas Muhammad Abu Bakr. The convicted rapist was named as 18-year-old Sharmarki Abdullah Mahmoud. The communiqués also included, among other stories, recent military engagements between “Ethiopian-supported militias” and al Shabaab in Gedo region. Al Shabaab also reported that its governor for the Banadir region, Sheikh Muhammad Hassan Abu Abdul Rahman, met with local leaders and urged them to “rally around Shariah.” He also taught a local shari’a course to 120 youths. The group claimed to have distributed aid to thousands of drought-affected families and to have taught a shari’a course in the Lower Shabelle region.
- The second part of al Shabaab’s video, entitled “AMISOM and the Inevitable End,” focuses on al Shabaab’s attacks on AMISOM and government forces within the past few years. The video’s narrator declared that al Shabaab’s capture of government forces and dragging of dead troops through the streets serve as indicators of AMISOM’s ultimate failure in Somalia. The video features suicide bombers from last year’s Ramadan offensive, focusing on the September 9, 2010 attack on the AMISOM military base at Aden Adde International Airport. Footage also includes al Shabaab militants planning for attacks and surveillance footage of potential AMISOM targets.
- The Pentagon has agreed to provide AMISOM forces with nearly $45 million in military equipment and training. The decision comes amidst an intensified military campaign in Somalia against al Shabaab and al Qaeda-linked networks operating in the country. The aid package includes four shoulder-launched Raven drones, body armor, night-vision gear, communications and construction equipment, generators, surveillance systems, and training. Uganda will receive an additional $4.4 million in communications and engineering equipment. Kenya will receive $12.1 million in helicopter upgrades and training. Incoming Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned that al Shabaab is developing stronger ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and that the U.S. must prevent the Yemen-based franchise from relocating to Somalia.
- Local residents found the beheaded bodies of two Puntland soldiers on a street in port town of Boosaaso, located in the Bari region. Witnesses said a local Islamist militia captured the soldiers after clashes in the mountainous Galgala region outside of Boosaaso. Puntland officials suspect that a local al Shabaab militia, loyal to Mohamed Said Atom, an arms dealer who has connections to al Shabaab, was behind the attack.
- Four Somali civilians died in Mogadishu on Saturday after their car hit a roadside bomb intended for African Union peacekeepers. Somali police officer Ahmed Abdullahi reported that seven others were wounded in the incident.
- The United Nations Security Council on Friday reiterated the need for a “comprehensive and inclusive” strategy that encouraged the restoration of peace and stability in Somalia. It stressed that the 2008 Djibouti Agreement remains the basis for resolving the conflict.