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: Reported U.S. airstrikes target suspected AQAP positions in Shabwah and Hadramawt governorates; pro-Hadi security forces capture dozens of militants in Aden raids; al Houthi-Saleh forces continue counterattack on pro-Hadi forces in Hajjah governorate; AQAP’s Ansar al Sharia holds protest against U.S. airstrike in al Mukalla, Hadramawt; pro-Hadi and allied forces advance in northern Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa:  Al Shabaab suicide bomber kills Puntland official in Galkayo, Mudug region; suspected al Shabaab gunmen ambush convoy carrying Turkish students in Hodan District, Mogadishu; SNA soldiers kill four civilians in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Reported U.S. airstrikes targeted suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) positions in Azzan, Shabwah governorate and at al Riyan base east of al Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate on March 30. Local sources reported a fire at al Riyan, which AQAP has since April 2015. No casualties were reported from either strike. The U.S. and the Saudi-led coalition have intensified their air campaigns against AQAP during the past week.[1]
  • Security forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi reportedly captured dozens of suspected militants during a clearing operation in Aden’s al Mansoura district on March 30. Aden’s security chief Shalal Ali Shaye’a declared the operation a success and announced the Hadi government’s intention to extend the operation to neighboring Lahij governorate, where Aden’s militants have reportedly fled since the government’s raids began.[2]
  • Al Houthi forces and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh continued a counterattack against a recent coalition-backed offensive that aimed to recapture key territory in northern Hajjah governorate, including Midi port. Hadi government sources reported that al Houthi-Saleh forces killed 45 of their troops on March 29 and 30, while al Houthi media reported over 400 kills. The coalition-backed pro-Hadi forces reportedly mobilized from southern Saudi Arabia and recaptured the city of Haradh before advancing on Midi. Coalition-backed forces previous claimed control of the port of Midi on January 6.[3]
  • AQAP’s insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia, held rallies in al Mukalla, Hadramawt on March 29 to protest a March 22 U.S. airstrike on an AQAP training camp that killed over 70 militants. The rally drew large crowds, including groups of schoolchildren. The March 22 strike was the highest casualty confirmed U.S. airstrike in Yemen to date. AQAP officials claimed the militants at the camp were training to fight the al Houthis in al Bayda governorate and posed no threat to the United States, accusing the United States and Saudi Arabia of seeking to prolong the conflict with the al Houthis.[4]
  • Hadi government and allied forces claimed control of al Safra base in Ma’rib government on March 30 and advanced on Barakish, near the border of Ma’rib, al Jawf, and Sana’a governorates. Fighting in southern Ma’rib, near the borders with al Bayda and Shabwah governorates, drew to a stalemate after initial successes by coalition-backed forces against al Houthi-Saleh forces in those areas.[5]


Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vest (SVEST) while embracing a Puntland Regional Administration official outside the Unlaay Hotel in Galkayo town in northern Somalia’s Mudug region on March 31. The SVEST explosion killed Said Ali Yusuf, an accountant in charge of finances for Galkayo, and five police officers. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack via Radio Andalus, saying that it was revenge for the offensive carried out against militants in Puntland and Galmudug states over the last two weeks.[6]
  • Suspected al Shabaab gunmen ambushed two vehicles carrying a number of Turkish and Azerbaijani nationals in the Taleh neighborhood of Mogadishu’s Hodan district on March 30. The gunmen reportedly blocked the path of the convoy before firing on the vehicles with small arms, killing two Turkish students and an Azerbaijani woman and wounding at least four Turks and a Somali bodyguard. Al Shabaab did not claim responsibility for this attack, but the group frequently targets Turkish nationals in Mogadishu.[7]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers reportedly opened fire on civilians near the Ex-control Junction in Afgoi in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on March 30. Witnesses claimed that the soldiers, who were not provoked, started shooting indiscriminately into a crowd of people, killing at least one fellow SNA soldier. SNA troops responding to the scene failed to find the suspects.[8]
[1] “Air strikes target al Qaeda in Yemen, troops control Aden district,” Reuters, March 30, 2016,
[2] Ahmed Al-Haj, “Yemen says dozens of al-Qaida fighters detained in Aden,” Associated Press, March 30, 2016,; and Mohammed Al Qalisi, “Yemeni forces drive Al Qaeda from key areas of Aden,” The National, March 31, 2016,
[3] “Yemen rebels in deadly counterattack on Red Sea coast,” Agence France Presse, March 31, 2016,
[4] Vladi Vovcuk, “Al-Qaeda In Yemen Sends Children To Protest U.S. Drone Strikes,” Vocativ, March 30, 2016,; and “US Strikes in Yemen, 2002 to present,” The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, last updated March 28, 2016,   
[5] “The resistance announces its control over the site of al Safra and their forces advance toward the town of Barakish,” Al Masdar, March 30, 2016,
[6] Abdi Sheikh, “Suicide bomber strikes while hugging official in Somalia’s Puntland,” Reuters, March 31, 2016,; “Death toll from suicide attack in Galkayo rose to 6,” Shabelle News, March 31, 2016,;  Six civilians and one suicide bomber killed, Puntland deputy governor says,”  Goobjoog News, March 31, 2016,
[7] Maalik Som, “Six killed in attack on Turkish vehicle in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, March 30, 2016,; “Ten people including Turkey nationals killed in Mogadishu this evening, “ Goovjoog News, March 30, 2016; “Azerbaijani woman died in Somali bus attack,” Shabelle News, March 31, 2016,
[8] “Somali army ‘opens fire on civilians’ in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, March 30, 2016,
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