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: Airstrike on vehicle carrying al Qaeda-linked militants kills five militants in al Bayda; President Hadi appoints new commander of the Special Guard and shifts two commanders to Republican Guard posts in Arhab and Taiz; Yemeni Salafists are expected to announce the creation of a political party on March 15

Horn of Africa: Suicide bombing at government compound in Mogadishu kills at least three people; fighting between al Shabaab militants and local residents in Gedo region kills at least three people; Kenyan police temporarily release Nairobi attack suspects; al Shabaab bans Save the Children from areas under its control

Yemen Security Brief

  • A Yemeni official reported that five al Qaeda-linked militants were killed by an airstrike on their vehicle near al Bayda city on March 13. Following a car bomb near an al Bayda checkpoint earlier on March 13, clashes ensued between the militants and security forces. The suspected mastermind behind the attack and a local leader in al Bayda governorate, Nasser al Dhafri, was killed alongside another militant.[1]
  • Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi appointed Abdu Rabbu Meaid to commander of the Special Guards on March 13. Meaid is replacing former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s nephew, Colonel Tareq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh. Tareq will reportedly command the 3rd Brigade of the Republican Guard. In addition, Hadi appointed Major General Murad al Awbali to commander of the 62nd Brigade of the Republican Guard in Arhab, and Major General Mohammad al Bokhaiti to commander of the Republican Guard in Taiz.[2]
  • Yemen’s Salafists are set to create a new political party on March 15. A conference was reportedly held on March 13 in Sana’a with more than 500 Salafists in attendance. Mohammed al Ameri, secretary general of the conference’s preparation committee, stated that the party will not work against any parties or sects. Senior Salafi leader Aqil al Maqtari reported that the new party will participate in the national dialogue set to take place in March.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing attack on Villa Somalia, the government compound in Mogadishu. At least three people were killed, including the bomber, and six others wounded. The suicide bomber was wearing the uniform of a Somali soldier, according to police official Abdullahi Hassan Barise, and detonated his device outside of the office of former parliamentary speaker Sheikh Hassan Sheikh Adam. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Mus'ab, al Shabaab’s military spokesman, said, “Harakat Shabab Mujahidin was able to enter in the presidential villa hitting the main base for the apostate administration.  More than dozen [sic] of soldiers and officers were killed in the area.”[4]
  • Fighting near Bardhere in Gedo region between al Shabaab militants and local residents killed at least three people and wounded several others. The local residents were angered when al Shabaab attempted to confiscate their cattle for zakat (charity) for the Islamist militia.[5] 
  • The four suspects detained by the Kenyan police on suspicion of throwing grenades at the Nairobi bus station were released on March 13. However, they were ordered to return to police headquarters on March 16 for further questioning.  The main suspect is Sylvester Opiyo, also known as Musa Osodo, and the three others are minors alleged to have been his accomplices.[6]
  • Al Shabaab’s Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies announced in a statement on March 13 that it “revokes the permission of the organisation known as Save the Children to operate in any of the regions under the administration of the mujahideen.” Save the Children’s operations in Somalia have included improving sanitation, digging wells, and establishing health care centers and schools. Al Shabaab accused Save the Children of serving expired porridge, corruption, and not adhering to the militant group’s rules.[7]    

[1] Hammoud Mounassar, “10 Killed as Qaeda, Yemen Forces’ Battles Intensify,” AFP, March 13, 2012. Available:
[2] “Hadi Appoints New Commander of the Special Guard,” Yemen Post, March 14, 2012. Available:
[3] “Yemeni Salafists to Announce Political Party,” Yemen Post, March 14, 2012. Available:
“Salafists in Yemen Create Political Party in Yemen,” Al Masdar Online, March 14, 2012. Available:
[4] “3 Dead in Bomb Attack inside Somali Government Compound, African Union Spokesman Says,” AP, March 14, 2012. Available:
“Explosion Outside Somalia Presidential Villa Kills Five,” Raxanreeb, March 14, 2012. Available:
[6] “Kenya Releases Suspects of Grenade Attack,” Xinhua, March 14, 2012. Available:
[7] “Somali Rebels Ban Aid Group Save the Children,” AFP, March 14, 2012. Available:
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