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: Suicide bomber detonates vehicle at security checkpoint in al Bayda; clashes between Yemeni police and southern separatists injure six; landmine blast in Kushar district in Hajjah kills one and injures another; Ansar al Sharia’s leader in Zinjibar details the March 4 raid; Madad News Agency releases a video providing details for the March 4 raid, showing the Yemeni army captives, and condemning foreign intervention in domestic policy; AQAP offers prisoner swap for 73 captive Yemeni soldiers
Horn of Africa: Fighting between al Shabaab and TFG troops backed by Kenyan forces kills at least six people in Gedo region; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM and TFG bases in Mogadishu; suspected al Shabaab militants open fire at a wedding ceremony; al Shabaab’s press office categorically denies participation in March 10 grenade attack at Nairobi bus station, but urges Kenyan Muslims to rise against the government; KDF announces that 4,660 Kenyan soldiers will join AMISOM; suspected al Shabaab assailant lobs hand grenade into café near Beledweyne, killing a TFG soldier and wounding another
Yemen Security Brief
- A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle at a checkpoint near al Bayda city in al Bayda governorate. A local source reported that four soldiers were killed immediately and another four were wounded and taken to a hospital. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
- A medical official reported that Yemeni police and southern separatists clashed in al Mukalla. At least six separatists were wounded and three of them with gunshot wounds. A protester added that the violence began after police fired tear gas and live ammunition at separatists who attacked shops when they refused to close down for a funeral procession.
- One person was killed and another wounded by a landmine blast in Kushar district in Hajjah governorate. Some blamed the al Houthis for planting landmines in villages and near civilians’ houses throughout the governorate.
- A user uploaded a 33-second video on YouTube on March 8 of Jalal al Marqishi, Ansar al Sharia’s leader in Zinjibar detailing the raid on Yemeni soldiers on March 4. After being asked to describe the events, Marqishi responded: “Today, praise be to Allah, the brothers stormed a brigade of artillery and Katyusha, and with grace from Allah, the brothers controlled the site completely and seized 6 canons, 6 Katyushas, 4 tanks, and the rest we destroyed. Praise be to Allah, everything is well and we have more than 50 captives, with grace from Allah the Almighty, not to mention the casualties and injuries amongst them.”
- Madad News Agency provided details for the March 4 raid in Zinjibar on jihadist forums on March 11. In the video, Jalal al Marqishi visits the 73 Yemeni captives and questions their loyalty to the Yemeni government emphasizing that Yemen is “occupied today.” In another segment, Muhammad al Ansari, an Ansar al Sharia commander, responds to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s declaration of war on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al Ansari claims that Hadi’s remarks are solely based on “flagrant American intervention in the domestic policy of the country through Gerald Feierstein.”
- In a communiqué issued on jihadist forums on March 11, AQAP offered the Yemeni government a prisoner swap deal for the 73 Yemeni soldiers Ansar al Sharia captured on March 4 in Zinjibar. In return, AQAP demands the release of their captives in political security and national security prisons.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Heavy fighting broke out in Tarak village in Gedo region between al Shabaab militants and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces backed by Kenyan troops. The clashes began with an al Shabaab ambush of an allied military convoy. At least six people were killed in the fighting.
- At least two civilians were killed and six others wounded in Mogadishu during clashes between al Shabaab militants and TFG soldiers backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops. Al Shabaab fighters attacked TFG and AMISOM bases near Dharkenley district and hit civilian homes in Kahda and Xoosh villages.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants opened fire at a wedding ceremony in al Adde village in Middle Shabelle region, killing two guests and wounding six others. The militant group has not yet commented on the incident.
- On March 12, al Shabaab’s press office released a categorical denial of any involvement in the March 10 attack on a Nairobi bus station. Rather, the fault of the ”turbulence [in]…the country…is in fact a monument to the grossly misguided foreign policies and misplaced priorities of the Kenyan government that seems to be under the delusion that it is waging a winnable war against Islam.” The statement goes on to excoriate Kenyan policy toward its Muslim population: “Innocent Muslims in Kenya, both native and foreign, are being falsely imprisoned and tortured, held for ransom in deplorable conditions and their businesses targeted and plundered.” Al Shabaab implored Kenyan Muslims to “resist all forms of state-sponsored oppression directed against them.”
- The commander of the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF), General Julius Karangi, announced that 4,660 Kenyan soldiers will be deployed as part of AMISOM’s force in Somalia. Kenya will contribute 16 of the 85 officers in AMISOM’s military council.
- An unknown assailant threw a hand grenade into a café in Nuur-Hawaad village, near Beledweyne, killing one TFG soldier and wounding another. No group has claimed responsibility, but local TFG officials blamed al Shabaab.