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: ISIS Wilayat Hadramawt conducts coordinated suicide attacks in al Mukalla, Hadramawt; suspected AQAP militants detonate roadside bomb in Lahij governorate; al Houthi-GPC and Hadi government delegations to suspend Kuwait peace talks until end of Ramadan; Saudi-led coalition conducts five air strikes in eastern Taiz governorate; reported UAV strike targets home of AQAP leader in Abyan governorate
Horn of Africa: U.S. Ambassador to Somalia sworn in; suspected al Shabaab militants assassinate SNA colonel in Mogadishu; KDF airstrikes kill one Somali civilian and injure two others near Somali-Kenyan border; al Shabaab and AMISOM troops clash over Goof Guduud town, Bay region
Yemen Security Brief
- Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Hadramawt militants detonated four explosive devices in a coordinated attack on multiple Yemeni military locations in al Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate on June 27. The explosive attacks included two suicide vests, one suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED), and a fourth explosion that was either a suicide vest or a SVBIED. Three simultaneous bombings targeted security checkpoints and the fourth targeted a military compound near a government intelligence building. Four ISIS gunmen opened fire following the explosive attacks. The attacks killed at least 43 people and injured at least 30 others. The attacks targeted members of the intelligence services as they were breaking their Ramadan fast.
- Militants detonated a roadside bomb outside a health clinic in al Hawta, Lahij governorate on June 26. The explosion injured six members of al Hizam security forces, a local Islamist group in Aden. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed the attack on social media, according to unconfirmed reports. Suspected AQAP militants also attacked an army checkpoint in al Hawta on June 23.
- The al Houthi-General People’s Congress party (GPC) delegation and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegation are planning to suspend the UN-led peace talks in Kuwait until the end of Ramadan and are reportedly drafting an official statement to announce the temporary suspension. They intend to return after Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan fasting for Muslims and will occur on July 6, according to lunar projections. The delegations may refuse to resume talks if the situation on the ground deteriorates, however. The planned follow-on talks to the June 2015 Geneva talks did not occur because parties refused to resume under the conditions at the time.
- The Saudi-led coalition conducted five airstrikes on al Houthi positions on June 27 in the al Rahida and al Sharija areas of Khadir district, Taiz governorate. The airstrikes killed 15 al Houthi fighters and at least 10 civilians in al Sharija and wounded eight civilians.
- A reported unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) airstrike targeted the home of an AQAP leader in Abyan governorate, killing five people, including two family members of the targeted leader. It is not yet clear if the AQAP militant was killed. No group has claimed responsibility for the strike at this time.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken swore in Stephen Schwartz as the first U.S. Ambassador to Somalia since the U.S. closed its embassy there in 1991. The U.S. officially recognized the Somali Federal Government (SFG) in 2013. Ambassador Schwartz will begin work in Somalia in July 2016.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants assassinated Somali National Army (SNA) Colonel Hassan Barre in Mogadishu on June 27. Al Shabaab frequently conducts assassinations and grenade attacks in the capital targeting military officers and government officials. Security forces responded to the incident but failed to apprehend any suspects.
- Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) air strikes targeting al Shabaab fighters killed one Somali civilian and wounded two others near the Kenyan border in Gedo region, Somalia on June 27. The airstrikes were likely a response to an al Shabaab attack on Kenyan telecommunications equipment that left much of northeastern Kenya without phone service on June 25. Kenyan media sources reported that the airstrikes killed 40 al Shabaab militants.
- Al Shabaab militants briefly took control of Goof Guduud town, Bay region on June 26 after SNA and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces withdrew from the area earlier that day. The coalition troops allegedly retreated after the SFG failed to pay soldiers’ salaries. SNA and AMISOM forces recaptured Goof Guduud town on June 27 after a fierce fight with the militants. No casualties were reported.