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: Al Houthi-Saleh forces conduct cross-border attacks into Asir and Najran regions, Saudi Arabia; reported U.S. airstrike targets AQAP near Ja’ar village, Abyan governorate; al Houthi-Saleh Prime Minister calls for cooperation on salary payments with Hadi government; al Houthi-Saleh forces fire two ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces in Mokha district, southwestern Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants conduct two VBIED attacks in Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants seize town outside Kismayo in Lower Jubba region; Puntland State president confirms minimal capabilities of ISIS-linked militants in northern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi-Saleh forces carried out a second day of cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia’s Asir and Najran regions between March 22 and March 24. Saudi Arabia acknowledged that al Houthi-Saleh forces killed one Saudi Civil Defense border guard. Al Houthi media released images of four deceased Saudi Civil Defense fighters in Najran region. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also claimed to fire a Zilzal-2  ballistic missile into Asir region on March 24. This missile strike is not confirmed.[1]

A reported U.S.  airstrike targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants near Ja’ar village, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on March 24. Suspected AQAP militants assassinated the son of theCorrection:A prior version of the Gulf of Aden Security Review stated that AQAP militants assassinated the son of the Yemeni Interior Minister. AQAP militants assassinated the son of the Deputy Yemeni Interior Minister. Deputy Yemeni Interior Minister in al Ayn village, northern Abyan, on March 23.[2]

Al Houthi-Saleh Prime Minister Abdulaziz Saleh bin Habtur called on President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government to form a joint committee with the al Houthi-Saleh bloc to address the issue of unpaid public employee salaries on March 23. Neither government paid salaries to public employees in the past six months. The Hadi government frequently accused the al Houthi-Saleh bloc of looting the Central Bank of Yemen in Sa’ada after seizing power in 2014.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired two ballistic missiles from al Hudaydah governorate toward Hadi government forces in Mokha district, southwestern Taiz governorate, on March 24. Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted both missiles.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) in Mogadishu on March 24. The first explosion injured four people in the Sie Piano neighborhood in Hodan district. The second explosion killed one person and wounded five others near the Central Hotel in Hamar Weyne district in central Mogadishu. Al Shabaab last targeted public officials who frequent the Central Hotel in February 2015 with a multiple VBIED assault that killed 25 people. Al Shabaab has conducted 11 VBIED attacks in Mogadishu in 2017.[5]

Al Shabaab militants seized Goobweyn town and attacked a nearby barracks used by Jubbaland security forces in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia, on March 22. Al Shabaab claimed to kill three militiamen in the attack. Goobweyn is located eight miles northwest of Kismayo, the capital of Lower Jubba region. Al Shabaab militants also seized Yontoy and Bulo-Gadud towns, located 20 miles northwest of Kismayo, in January 2017. Al Shabaab frequently conducts ambushes targeting Somali security and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces along major roads outside Kismayo.[6]

Puntland State President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said that Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)-linked militants do not pose a serious threat to Somalia or Puntland security forces on March 21. Ali said that the militants number between 100 and 300 fighters. ISIS-linked militants seized the coastal town of Qandala in Bari region, northeastern Somalia, in October 2016. Puntland security forces expelled the militants by early December 2016. The remaining ISIS-linked militants launch sporadic attacks from camps located in the nearby Galgala Mountains in Bari region.[7]

[1] “Asir: Saudi sites bombed by seven rockets and artillery shelling,” al Masirah, March 24, 2017,; “Warrior media distributes scenes and pictures of a massive army raid in Najran,” Sabanews, March 34, 2017,; “Security spokesman for Interior Ministry announces the death of Saudi Border guard in Asir,” Saudi Press Agency, March 23, 2017,
[2] “Yemen: dead confrontations in Shabwa and raids targeting "Al Qaeda" in Abyan,” The New Arab, March 24, 2017,; and “Source: the death of the son of the deputy interior minister of his wounds in the attack on his family in Abyan,” al Masdar, March 23, 2017,
[3] “The National Salvation Government engages outgoing President, calls for formation of a joint team to address the state employees’ salaries,” Sabanews, March 23, 2017,
[4] “Alliance defenses intercept two ballistic missiles over Mokha,” March 24, 2017,
[5] “Twin Explosions Hit Mogadishu,” Radio Dalsan, March 24, 2017,; “Car bomb explodes near a popular hotel in Mogadishu,” Garowe Online, March 24, 2017,; and Hamza Mohamed, “Al Shabaab stages deadly attack on Somalia luxury hotel,” Al Jazeera, February 21, 2015,
[6] “Shabaab Claims Killing 17 Soldiers in Raid on Barawe, Capturing Parts of City,” SITE Intelligence, March 23, 2017,
[7] Nizar Manek, “Islamic State Routed in Somalia’s Puntland, President Says,” Bloomberg, March 23, 2017,
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