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 militants attack security forces in Zinjibar; Yemeni air force bombs Nihm district north of Sana’a; UK condemns violence in Yemen; Qatar halted embassy operations in Sana'a; EU foreign affairs chief condemns the "escalation of violence" and urges Saleh to transfer power; the G8 condemns the employment of violence and urges President Saleh to transition power; UN human rights office condemns use of violence, warns of civil war

Horn of Africa: TFG and AMISOM troops clash with al Shabaab in Mogadishu; Kampala police chief warns of al Shabaab attacks; TFG governor in Gedo region calls for ceasefire; Somaliland president seeks international community’s recognition; ONLF frees two WFP workers and four hundred other civilians in two separate raids

Yemen Security Brief

  • Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants took over Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate. AQAP militants clashed with security forces. Casualties are unknown.[1]
  • At least 22 people were killed in Nihm district in Sana’a governorate. Sheikh Ali Saif, a leader of the Hashid tribe, reported that tribesmen attacked and captured a military base, killing at least ten soldiers. The clash reportedly killed the base commander. The Yemeni Air Force responded by attacking the tribesmen-controlled base with bombs, killing at least 12 tribesmen. Saif said that the tribesmen attacked the base to prevent soldiers from reinforcing loyalist troops in Sana'a, where fighting continued into a fifth day.[2]
  • UK Foreign Minister William Hague said in a statement: "I am appalled by the reports of yet more deaths in Sana’a. I absolutely condemn this latest violence.   The agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council offers the chance for peaceful progress in Yemen and therefore we urgently reiterate the United Kingdom’s call to President Saleh to sign the agreement, allowing for a peaceful transition and preventing further bloodshed." The embassy has reduced its staff in Sana’a.[3]
  • Qatar halted its embassy operations in Sana'a and withdrew all of its foreign service officers and diplomatic staff from Yemen.[4]
  • Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, condemned the violence in Sana'a and urged President Saleh to transfer power immediately: "The escalation of violence after President Saleh’s refusal to sign the GCC initiative to come to a peaceful transfer of power is extremely worrying. I deplore the loss of so many lives and injuries.  I strongly call on all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from further violence. The shelling of areas of Sana'a with large civilian populations must stop without delay. I appeal to all sides to protect civilians... It is time for President Saleh to transfer power now.”[5]
  • The G8 released a joint communiqué: “We condemn the use of violence in response to peaceful protest throughout Yemen. We commend the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council and appreciate the constructive response from the opposition. We remain supportive of an inclusive process that should bring about political and social reform in Yemen and lead to a peaceful and orderly transition. We urge President Saleh to immediately follow through on his commitments and ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people are addressed.”[6]
  • Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the “excessive and disproportionate” use of force in Sana’a. Colville said, “The dangerous escalation of violence in Yemen over the past few days is very alarming, especially given that the Government and opposition were so close to an agreement… We are deeply concerned that such violence may be pushing the country to the brink of a civil war…We call on the Government to stop the excessive and disproportionate use of force, to stop targeting activists, human rights defenders and journalists, and to seriously investigate all allegations of crimes committed by security forces.”[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and AMISOM troops attacked strategically important al Shabaab bases in Mogadishu's Hodan district. At least two people were killed and seven others were wounded. In an unrelated incident, al Shabaab militants launched attacks in Mogadishu's Bondhere and Abdi Aziz districts. The clashes killed at least one person and wounded two others.[8]
  • Ibin Senkumbi, a spokesman for the Kampala Metropolitan Police, said that Ugandan intelligence had learned that al Shabaab militants are planning attacks. Senkumbi said, "We got intelligence information that these terrorists want to exploit the current situation of misunderstandings between the government and the opposition to cause more confusion because they are aware that if the opposition leadership gets a problem at this moment then there is likely to be some chaos in the country which would definitely fulfill their intentions.”[9]
  • Mohammed Abdi Kalil, the TFG governor of the Gedo region, called for a ceasefire between TFG troops and al Shabaab militants in the region. Kalil added that the TFG would nonetheless fight with al Shabaab militants if they did not accept the ceasefire.[10]
  • Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo urged the international community to recognize the autonomy of Somaliland. This comes a week after Somaliland celebrated the 20th anniversary of its unrecognized declaration of independence from Somalia. Silanyo said, "It's high time the international community gave consideration to the efforts of the people of Somaliland, and gives the recognition that the people of Somaliland need and deserve...The international community can see that the possibility of change in Somalia does not even appear on the horizon and that there is no reason why we should be held hostage for solutions to be found for Somalia...We hope that the international community will find solutions for Somalia, and we support the efforts of the international community in this regard, but certainly that should not be at our cost." Silanyo added that Somaliland was the most stable region in Somalia, and had a democratic government. He pointed to the division of Sudan as an example of internationally recognized self-determinism in Africa.[11]
  • The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) reportedly launched an attack on an Ethiopian-controlled region in Somalia to free two captured World Food Programme (WFP) workers. A separate ONLF raid in Ethiopia freed four hundred other prisoners. Hussein Mohammed Nur, an ONLF official, reported that ONLF militants attacked an Ethiopian camp in Dabashe, in the Ethiopian-controlled Dhagahtur region in Somalia. Nur reported that they found two WFP workers missing since May 13 and described the workers as "good in health and in a peaceful location."  The ONLF also released a statement detailing a separate raid to free four hundred civilian prisoners: "The Ogaden National Liberation Army of (the) ONLF has captured the town of Galalshe in Jigjiga Region near Babili...The (ONLF) army found hundreds of civilian prisoners detained in the Galalshe jail who had been tortured and badly treated. Among the prisoners found were the two WFP workers abducted by the Ethiopian Army.”[12]

[1] "Yemen: Air strikes 'target tribal fighters,'" BBC, May 27, 2011. Available:
[2] Ahmed al Haj, "Yemeni tribal rebels take over military camp," AP, May 27, 2011. Available:
"Sanaa is now a capital divided between entrenched enemies," Reuters, May 26, 2011. Available:
"Yemen: Air strikes 'target tribal fighters,'" BBC, May 27, 2011. Available:
[3] William Hague, "Foreign Secretary ‘appalled’ at situation in Yemen," UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, May 26, 2011. Available:
[4] "Qatar suspends Yemen embassy ops, withdraws staff," Reuters, May 26, 2011. Available:
[5] Catherine Ashton, "Statement by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton on the situation in Yemen," EU, May 26, 2011. Available:
[6] “G8 Declaration: Renewed Commitment for Freedom and Democracy,” G8, May 27, 2011. Available:
"G8 says Yemen leader must quit, as agreed," Reuters, May 27, 2011. Available:
[7] “Escalating violence may push Yemen civil war, warns UN human rights office,” UN, May 27, 2011. Available:
[8] "Sporadic firefight leaves two dead in Mogadishu," Shabelle Media Network, May 27, 2011. Available:
"Heavy battle rocks parts of Mogadishu," Shabelle Media Network, May 27, 2011. Available:
[9] "Ugandan Police Says Somali Extremists Sneak into Country," Xinhua, May 27, 2011. Available:
[10] "Al Shabaab fighters in Gedo region called for ceasing fire," Shabelle Media Network, May 27, 2011. Available:
[11] Simon Allison, "Somali breakaway state needs recognition, says leader," AFP, May 27, 2011. Available:
[12] "Ethiopia rebels say they take town, free UN staff," Reuters, May 27, 2011. Available:
Abdi Hajji Hussein, "Ethiopian rebels: We rescued UN workers after bitter battle with gov't troops," AHN, May 26, 2011. Available:
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