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: Six Somalis suspected of links to AQAP detained in Zinjibar; gunmen attack central prison in Aden while riot breaks out inside; King Abdullah pledged to donate two months’ worth of oil to Yemen during a meeting with President Hadi in Riyadh; Ministry of Interior warns of terrorist attacks in Shabwah and Hadramawt

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian forces backed by Ahlu Sunna seize Elbur in Galgudud region; al Shabaab militants loot equipment from Horn Relief aid agency in Afmadow; Kenyan Air Force destroys al Shabaab bases in Gedo and Lower Jubba regions; EU agrees to expand anti-piracy operations to include inland attacks in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Six Somali men suspected of links with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) were arrested by the 39th Brigade in Zinjibar. The Defense Ministry indicated that the arrested men were actively planning to attack military installations and personnel.[1]
  • Unknown gunmen attacked the al Mansoura Central Prison in Aden on March 26; simultaneously, a riot broke out among inmates inside the prison. A security source believed that it was an attempt to free militants from the prison; the Ministry of Interior had reported earlier this month that such attacks were being planned by terrorist groups.[2]
  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi made his first trip abroad as president to Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Abdullah on March 26. Following the meeting, King Abdullah announced that the Saudis would donate two months’ worth of oil to Yemen.[3]
  • The Ministry of Interior reported that Yemeni security forces have noticed the suspicious movement of “terrorist elements” in Shabwah governorate’s Radum district, as well as in Hadramawt’s Hajr and Daw’an districts. The ministry reported that these militants, from AQAP, are planning to seize areas, especially in Hadramawt, and conduct terrorist attacks on important facilities.[4]  

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • On March 26, Ethiopian forces backed by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a seized Elbur in Galgudud, an al Shabaab stronghold. There was a brief exchange of fire, but al Shabaab reportedly withdrew and remains near the outskirts.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants stormed Horn Relief, an aid agency, in Afmadow on March 26. A guard at the compound reported that 10 militants intimidated the guards with weapons and then stole computers, farming equipment, and medical equipment before fleeing. Horn Relief was previously raided in 2009.[6]
  • The Kenyan Air Force launched a series of attacks against al Shabaab. On March 23, Kenyan planes struck an area 12 kilometers from Fafadun in Gedo region. Ten al Shabaab militants were reportedly killed in the attack and four gun-mounted vehicles were destroyed. On March 24, Kenyan jets conducted an air raid on Tarako village in Lower Jubba region. Three militants were reportedly killed.[7]
  • On March 23, the European Union (EU) agreed to expand “the force's area of operations to include Somali coastal territory as well as its territorial and internal waters.” An EU official reported that the new mandate will allow helicopters to fire at fuel barrels, boats, trucks, and other equipment up to two kilometers inland. The anti-piracy mission had recently been extended until December 2014.[8]

[1] “Yemeni Army Forces Arrest Six Somalis Planning Terrorist Operations,” Yemen Post, March 27, 2012. Available:
[2] “Gunmen Attack Central Prison in Aden,” Yemen Post, March 27, 2012. Available:
[3] “Yemeni-Saudi Summit Held in Riyadh,” SABA News, March 26, 2012. Available:
[4] “Security Forces Observe Suspicious Movements of Al Qaeda Elements Between Shabwa and Hadramawt,” Yemeni Ministry of Interior, March 27, 2012. Available:
[5] “Ethiopian Troops Seize Main Rebel Town in Central Somalia,” AFP, March 26, 2012. Available:
[6] “Al Shabaab Storm Horn Relief Base in Afmadow,” Somalia Report, March 26, 2012. Available:
[7] Dominic Wabala, “Kenya: KDF Destroys Three Al Shabaab Bases,” Nairobi Star, March 25, 2012. Available:
[8] “EU Authorises Warships to Hit Somali Pirate Lairs,” AFP, March 23, 2012. Available: Matthias Gebauer, “EU to Target Pirates Up to Two Kilometers Inland,” Der Spiegel, March 27, 2012. Available:,1518,824030,00.html
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