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: Explosion in Aden wounds two; British embassy reopens after failed attack on ambassador in Sana’a; FBI director asks Yemeni government to extradite two suspects to US; al Houthis clash with pro-government tribes; Yemeni government allegedly detains two Washington Post correspondents

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab captures town on Ethiopian border; Doctors Without Borders clinic attacked by militants; opposition party in Somaliland denies al Shabaab links; al Shabaab bans cutting down trees; Somali pirates seize chemical tanker; al Shabaab and Hizb al Islam fighters exchange fire in Mogadishu


  • Two home-made bombs detonated in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on Sunday, injuring two people. The bombs exploded in a bank and a park, but it is unknown who planted the devices.[1]
  • The British Embassy in Sana’a opened Sunday for the first time since the attempted assassination of the British ambassador two weeks ago. Both the British and American embassies closed following the attack, although the American embassy reopened last week.[2]
  • During his visit to Yemen last week, FBI director Robert Mueller asked Yemeni officials to extradite Jaber al Bana’a, responsible for the USS Cole bombing, and Anwar al Awlaki to the United States for prosecution. The Yemeni government is not believed to have either man in custody.  Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi said Monday that Yemen would not extradite Anwar al Awlaki to the United States. Should he be captured, al Qirbi said al Awlaki would stand trial in Yemen, where he is wanted for terrorist activity.[3]
  • Al Houthi rebels launched an offensive against pro-government Mad tribesman in Sa’ada governorate on Saturday afternoon, according to local sources. The attack came after the al Houthis gave the tribesmen 24 hours to turn over those responsible for killing Yahiya Alarms, a civilian. Al Houthis also warned women and children via loudspeaker to leave the area before they began their assault.[4]
  • A report by Sahwa Net indicates that Yemeni authorities detained two Washington Post reporters at a military checkpoint in Aden. The report alleges that the reporters intended to meet leaders of the southern movement.[5]

Horn of Africa

  • Militants from al Shabaab seized the town of Elberde that sits on the Somali border with Ethiopia. Pro-government forces fled the town ahead of the al Shabaab offensive. The town had been using as a training center for government forces in southern Somalia.[6]
  • The Islamist militant Hizb al Islam attacked a Doctors Without Borders clinic near the Somali capital of Mogadishu last week. Militants reportedly fired RPGs at the clinic and then briefly detained the clinic’s staff before shutting down the facility.  Hizb al Islam has not claimed responsibility for the attack and it is unclear as to the reasons behind it.[7]
  • The leading opposition party in the autonomous Somaliland region in northern Somalia has denied local government allegations that link its leaders to al Shabaab. The Kulmiye party said the allegations were made to tarnish the reputations of top figures within the opposition movement.[8]
  • Al Shabaab has allegedly banned cutting down tree in the Beled Hawo district of Gedo region. The move comes as a serious blow to the charcoal trade, which has long been the major commercial activity in southern Somalia.[9]
  • Somali pirates seized a chemical tanker and its 22 crew members bound for Belgium on Saturday. Additionally, a Taiwanese fishing vessel was reportedly captured by pirates off the Maldives the same day. It is unknown how many were aboard the Taiwanese boat.[10]
  • Hizb al Islam and al Shabaab militants reportedly exchanged fire in Mogadishu’s Bakara Market neighborhood on Sunday. One civilian was killed in crossfire. While the two Islamist groups are ostensibly allied, tensions have divided both sides in recent weeks.[11]

[1] “Home-made Bombs Injure Two In South Yemen,” Reuters, May 9, 2010. Available:  
[2] “British Embassy In Yemen Reopens After Failed Attack,” AFP, May 9, 2010. Available:  
[3] “U.S. Asks Yemen To Extradite Two Wanted Suspects,” Yemen Post, May 8, 2010. Available: “Al Qirbi: Yemen Will Not Extradite al Awlaki to U.S.,” Yemen News Agency (SABA), May 10, 2010. Available:  
[4] “Violent Clashes Erupt Between Houthis and Pro-Government Tribesmen,” Yemen Post, May 9, 2010. Available:  
[5] “Yemen’s Authorities Arrest Two American Journalists,” Sahwa Net, May 8, 2010. Available:  
[6] “Somalia: al Shabaab Captures Border Town,” Garowe Online, May 10, 2010. Available:  
[7] “Doctors Without Borders Clinic Attacked in Somalia,” VOA, May 7, 2010. Available:  
[8] “Somalia: Somaliland Opposition Dismisses Government Allegations,” Garowe Online, May 10, 2010. Available:  
[9] “Somalia: al Shabaab Outlaws Cutting Down of Trees,” Somaliweyn, May 10, 2010. Available:  
[10] “Somali Pirates Hijack Chemical Tanker With 22 Crew,” AP, May 9, 2010. Available:  
[11] “Somalia: Two Allied Islamists Exchange Gun Fire in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, May 9, 2010. Available:  


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