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: Yemeni navy reportedly shells and kills 29 al Qaeda-linked militants in Zinjibar; suspected al Qaeda-linked gunmen kidnap and kill a Yemeni intelligence officer in Shabwah; AQAP claims responsibility for the killing of American in Taiz; mortar fire targets defected army headquarters in Sana’a; al Qaeda-linked militants clash with Republican Guard and security forces in Ma’rib governorate; tribesmen kidnap three Filipino sailors, demand the release of a prisoner

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack Ethiopian forces in Bakool region; TFG reports that 27 al Shabaab militants surrendered in Gedo region; AMISOM officials arrive in Baidoa

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni officials reported that navy ships off the coast of Abyan governorate shelled al Qaeda-linked militant positions in Zinjibar over a 24-hour period. The attacks reportedly killed 29 militants.[1]
  • Suspected al Qaeda-linked gunmen killed a Yemeni intelligence officer after kidnapping him in al Mukalla on March 21. An official reported, “Commander Faraj Saeed al-Odsani was snatched [Wednesday] afternoon from a road near Mukalla airport by Al-Qaeda gunmen who drove him towards the nearby province of [Shabwah].” A policeman was wounded when security forces and the gunmen exchanged fire. The gunmen’s vehicle was damaged in the firefight, which led the militants to abandon the vehicle. Odsani was found in the car with his throat cut.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a statement claiming responsibility for the killing of American teacher Joel Shrum in Taiz on March 18. AQAP accused Joel Shrum of proselytizing. The statement read, “The United States, its infidel subjects and interests, are legitimate targets for our jihad until it ends its war against Islam and Muslims.”[3]
  • Residents reported that a mortar targeted the defected First Armored Division’s headquarters in Sana’a on March 21. A security official reported that the mortar missed its target. No injuries or casualties have been reported.[4]
  • Al Qaeda-linked militants attacked checkpoints manned by Yemeni Republican Guard and Central Security Forces in Ma’rib governorate on March 21. A local source reported that military posts were under fire. On March 20, a military unit stationed in Jadan in Ma’rib governorate near power supply lines was attacked. Two soldiers were wounded in the incident.[5]
  • On March 21, a Yemeni interior ministry official reported that tribesmen kidnapped three Filipino sailors while heading from Ma’rib to Nashtun port in al Mahrah governorate in eastern Yemen. The official added that the tribesmen belong to Bani Gabr and demanded the release of a fellow tribesman from prison.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants reportedly attacked Ethiopian soldiers en route to Hudur, the al Shabaab-controlled capital of Bakool region. The heavy fighting occurred in the town of Yed in Bakool region, and although al Shabaab claimed to have inflicted many casualties on the Ethiopians, no casualty figure has been released and Ethiopian officials have not commented on the March 21 attack. Local eyewitnesses reported that al Shabaab militants withdrew from Hudur without a fight.[7]
  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) officials reported that 27 al Shabaab fighters had surrendered to their forces in the last 24 hours in Gedo region. The surrender came after the militants contacted the government and pleaded for amnesty.[8]
  • Burundian and Ugandan officials of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) arrived in Baidoa, the capital of Bay region, on March 21. They discussed security measures with the outgoing Ethiopians and the TFG. One of the officials said, “We are assessing the situation and AU's plan to send peacekeeping forces to area [sic] liberated from Al-shabab in Bay and Bakol regions.”[9]             

[1] Ahmed al Haj, “Shelling in Yemen Kills 29 al-Qaida Militants,” AP, March 22, 2012. Available:
[2] “Qaeda Gunmen Kidnap, Kill Yemen Intelligence Officer,” AFP, March 22, 2012. Available:
[3] Ahmed al Haj, “Al-Qaida Says It Killed American Teacher in Yemen,” AP, March 22, 2012. Available:
“Statement on the Killing of the American Proselytizer in Taiz,” Al Fajr Media Center, March 22, 2012. Available:
[4] “Explosion Rocks Defected Army Headquarter in Yemen’s Capital,” Yemen Post, March 22, 2012. Available:
[5] “Violent Clashes between al-Qaeda, Army in Central Yemen,” Yemen Post, March 21, 2012. Available:
[6] “Yemen: Tribesmen Kidnap 3 Filipino Sailors, Demand Release of Prisoner,” AP, March 21, 2012. Available:
“Bani Gabr Tribe Kidnaps 3 Filipino Sailors,” Yemeni Ministry of Interior, March 21, 2012. Available:
[7] Ahmed Abdisamad, “Alshabab Fighters Clash with Ethiopian Troops in Bakool,” Hiiraan Online, March 21, 2012. Available:
“Al Shabab Rebels Vacate First Strategic Town in Bakool Region, Southwest Somalia” Raxanreeb, March 22, 2012. Available:
[8] “Officials: Al-Shabab Fighters Surrender to TFG Forces in Gedo,” Shabelle Media Network, March 22, 2012. Available:
[9] “AMISOM Officials Visit Baidoa Town,” Shabelle Media Network, March 22, 2012. Available:
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