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: AQAP and the Islamic State clash over control of areas in western al Bayda governorate; al Houthi forces fire missile at Saudi-led coalition forces in Hajjah governorate; Emirati-backed Yemeni forces disrupt AQAP supply line to al Bayda governorate; al Houthi fighters resume shelling the Red Sea Mills in al Hudaydah city

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates VBIED in Mogadishu; UN extends UNSOM mandate; Rwandan court sentences al Shabaab and Islamic State supporters

Yemen Security Brief

The Islamic State in Yemen and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) clashed from March 25 to March 28 in western al Bayda governorate in central Yemen. The Islamic State conducted its first suicide attack against AQAP on March 24 and launched an offensive against AQAP militants in al Humayda in Qayfa area on March 25. AQAP claimed to seize Jabal al Sawa and Aqaba al Sulul in Qayfa area from the Islamic State on the same day. The Islamic State and AQAP each subsequently claimed to control al Humayda on March 26. AQAP published several claims of attacks on the Islamic State, including the seizure of territory, between March 26 and March 28.[1]

Al Houthi forces fired a Badr 1P missile at Saudi-led coalition forces and a weapons depot in Hayran district in Hajjah governorate, northwestern Yemen, on March 28.[2]

Emirati-backed Yemeni forces claimed to have secured areas of Nisab, Markhah as Sufla, and Markhah al ‘Ulya districts in Shabwah governorate, cutting off AQAP’s main supply line to and from neighboring al Bayda governorate, on March 28. The forces seized rocket launchers, anti-aircraft weapons, and explosive devices left behind following AQAP’s retreat. Shabwani Elite Forces commander Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed al Buhar al Qumayshi declared the operation a success. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces launched Operation White Mountains to clear AQAP from Shabwah governorate on March 26.[3]

Al Houthi fighters resumed shelling the Red Sea Mills in al Hudaydah city on March 26 and burned a grain silo at the mills on March 28. Al Houthi fighters also attacked the May 22 hospital and attacked pro-Hadi forces along 50th street in al Hudaydah city on March 28.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) outside of a restaurant on Makka al Mukarama road in Hawl Wadag district in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, on March 28. The bombing killed 15 people. Al Shabaab claimed the attack. The attack continues an uptick in al Shabaab bombings in Mogadishu this month.[5]

The UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) for one year on March 27.[6]

A Rwandan court sentenced 13 people to prison terms for belonging to or supporting the Islamic State and al Shabaab on March 22. The court acquitted 25 others. Police arrested 40 people in January 2016 after killing a preacher who was accused of recruiting for Salafi-jihadi groups.[7]

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[1] “One day after IS claims raids on AQAP positions, AQAP announces its seizure of 5 IS-controlled locations in al Bayda’,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 26, 2019, available by subscription at; “As conflict rages between the two, IS claims attacks on multiple AQAP positions in al Humaydha, SITE Intelligence Group, March 26, 2019; “AQAP claims capturing IS fighter among four attacks on group in Yemen,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 28, 2019.

[2] “Yemeni Forces Launch Missile at Saudi Mercenaries in Hajjah,” Tasnim News Agency, March 28, 2019,

[3] “The Shabwani Elite Forces continue to hunt terrorist elements and announce the clearing of the white mountains,” Tahdeeth, March 28, 2019,; and Summer Ahmed, Twitter, March 28, 2019

[4] “The militias are attacking hospitals in al Hudaydah,” Hadramout Net, March 28, 2019,; and “Hudaydah: Al Houthi militias renewed shelling and targeting the Red Sea Mills,” Hadramout Net, March 28, 2019,

[5] “UPDATE: 10 dead after blast outside restaurant in Somalia’s capital,” AFP, March 28, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, March 28, 2019,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, March 28, 2019,

[6] “Security Council Extends Mandate of United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia for One Year, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2461 (2019),” United Nations, March 27, 2019,

[7] “Rwanda convicts ISIS, Al-Shabaab suspects,” Reuters, March 23, 2019,

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