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: Yemeni military offensive near Zinjibar in Abyan governorate continues; car bomb suspect reportedly infiltrates Sana’a; two Saudis killed in May 12 drone strikes in Ma’rib; gunmen detonate bomb near house of Yemeni Information Minister; Madad News Agency reports on an Ansar al Sharia revenge attack in Lahij governorate and reactions to March 31 drone strike

Horn of Africa: EU carries out first inland strikes against pirate targets near Harardhere; TFG and KDF troops clash with al Shabaab near Afmadow; bomb kills police officer in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee; al Shabaab militants reportedly vacate from several bases in Galgudud region; Puntland security forces conduct security operations in Garowe

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Yemeni military offensive continued for the fourth straight day near Zinjibar in Abyan governorate. Residents said that overnight clashes between the Yemeni army and al Qaeda-linked militants near Jaar killed eight militants and one soldier, adding that two Somali fighters were captured. Also in Jaar, Yemeni officials reported that Yemeni warplanes targeted Ansar al Sharia hideouts killing two militants. The officials added that eight local residents were killed and 20 others wounded when they inspected the targeted site and were mistakenly fired upon. In Zinjibar, a Yemeni military official stated that six militants were detained. The Yemeni military also bombed hideouts in Jabal Yusuf to the east of Zinjibar. Following the bombardment, clashes between Yemeni soldiers, backed by the Popular Resistance Committee (a coalition of armed tribesmen), and Ansar al Sharia militants reportedly killed two civilians and two soldiers. Eight militants’ bodies were also found, however it is unclear when they were killed. U.S. troops have allegedly been providing direct guidance to the Yemeni military during the offensive. Yemeni military officials stated that 60 U.S. troops were stationed in Anad base in Lahij governorate. On May 13, al Qaeda-linked militants attacked the northern gate of the base but were repelled. One Yemeni soldier was killed in the attack.[1]
  • Sana’a has reportedly ramped up security after the Yemeni Interior Ministry received information of a potential car bomb attack to be carried out by Abdullah Muhammad Jabir al Shabwani. Shabwani is reportedly driving a 2009 Land Cruiser.[2]
  • Yemen’s Interior Ministry stated that two Saudi militants were killed in the suspected U.S. drone strikes on May 12 in Ma’rib governorate. The ministry added that the two Saudis were centered out of al Wadi district, 30 kilometers from Ma’rib city.[3]
  • Gunmen on two motorcycles detonated a bomb near Yemeni Information Minister Ali al Amrani’s house late on May 12, sources at the minister’s office said. No one was injured in the attack; however, the gunmen randomly fired their weapons while fleeing the scene and injured one civilian.[4]
  • Madad News Agency, Ansar al Sharia’s media wing, reported a revenge attack on al Haroor, a Yemeni military base in Lahij, on April 1 in response to the alleged rape of a woman by a Yemeni officer two months prior. The reports were released in Madad’s 17th issue which was posted on jihadist forums on May 8. Madad reported that Ansar al Sharia killed 30 “mercenaries” in the attack and managed to seize weapons and vehicles. Additionally, Madad reported the bombing of gas pipelines in Shabwah governorate in retaliation for the March 31 drone strike in Azzan that reportedly killed two militants, one civilian, and injured five children. In the issue, Madad reports the group’s hospital visit to the injured children.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The European Union naval force patrolling the Indian Ocean reportedly launched its first inland airstrikes on Handulle village in Mudug region, 18 kilometers north of Harardhere, destroying speed boats, fuel depots, and weapons. An EU spokesman said that both maritime aircraft and helicopters participated in the strikes. No deaths were reported. In March 2012, the EU expanded its mandate to cover inland strikes on pirates and their equipment.[6]
  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Colonel Mohamed Abdullahi reported that clashes between TFG soldiers backed by Kenyan troops and al Shabaab militants killed one Somali soldier and three militants in Hayo village near Afmadow in Lower Jubba region. The fighting began when Kenyan and TFG troops launched attacks on an al Shabaab base.[7]
  • A local police chief reported that an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, targeting a police Land Rover. The chief added that one police officer was killed and three others were wounded in the explosion.[8]
  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a’s security head in Elbur in Galgudud region, Abdi Hassan Mohamed stated that al Shabaab militants were withdrawing from their bases between Elbur and Elder districts in fear of a renewed assault.[9]
  • Ali Hirse, governor of Nugal region, said that Puntland security forces seized illegally-held weapons from multiple neighborhoods in Garowe while conducting security operations in the region.[10]       

[1] “Yemen: US Gives Help in New Assault on al-Qaida,” AP, May 15, 2012. Available:
“At Least 32 Killed in New Yemen Offensive on Militants,” Reuters, May 15, 2012. Available:,0,4912902.story
[2] “Yemen Says Bomber Enters Capital for Car Bomb Attack,” Yemen Post, May 15, 2012. Available:
[3] “Two Saudis Killed in Marib,” Yemen Post, May 14, 2012. Available:
[4] “Gunmen Throw Bomb at House of Yemen Minister,” Yemen Post, May 14, 2012. Available:
[5] “Madad Reports Ansar al-Shariah Revenge Attack, Reaction to Drone Strike,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 14, 2012. Available at SITE.
[6] Slobodan Lekic and Abdi Guled, “EU Somalia Pirates Air Strikes: Europe Carries Out First Strikes against Pirate Targets,” AP, May 15, 2012. Available:
Jeffrey Gettleman and Paul Geitner, “European Forces Strike Pirate Base in Somalia,” New York Times, May 15, 2012. Available:
[7] “Four Killed in Deadly Clash Between Allied Forces and Al-Shabaab Fighters in Hayo,” Bar Kulan, May 15, 2012. Available:
[8] “Blast at Kenya Refuge Camp Kills Police Officer,” Reuters, May 15, 2012. Available:
[9] “Al-Shabaab Fighters Vacate Parts of Galgadud Region,” Bar Kulan, May 15, 2012. Available:
[10] “Puntland Forces Conduct Security Operations in Garowe, Seize Illegal Weapons,” Shabelle Media Network, May 15, 2012. Available:
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