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: SVBIED detonates near al Houthi checkpoint in al Jawf governorate; suspected AQAP militants attempt to seize city of Sayun in Hadramawt governorate; Yemeni Counter Terrorism Units conduct series of raids against AQAP in Sana’a governorate; al Houthi rebels clash with Yemeni security forces in Amran governorate; Yemeni security forces defuse VBIED in Shabwah governorate, IED in Sana’a capital, and IED detonates near market in al Dhaleh governorate
Horn of Africa: al Shabaab militants conduct complex attack on Somali Parliament compound in Mogadishu; unidentified assailants conduct grenade attack on restaurant in Djibouti; suspected al Shabaab militants ambush Kenyan military vehicle along Kenya-Somalia border; Somali security forces conduct raid targeting suspected al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants attack AMISOM and SNA forces in Bakool region
Yemen Security Brief
- A suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) detonated near an al Houthi checkpoint in al Jawf governorate on May 23. Witnesses speculate that the vehicle was headed towards an al Houthi cultural center, but detonated at the checkpoint instead. Two al Houthi members were killed in the explosion, and officials suspect that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants were behind the attack.
- Suspected AQAP militants attempted to seize the city of Sayun in Hadramawt governorate on the evening of May 23. The militants, clothed in Yemeni military uniforms, attacked the city with a combination of rocket-propelled grenades, mortar shells and other explosives, after detonating a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) near an entrance to the city. The gunmen targeted a variety of military, government and banking facilities, and managed to seize a number of buildings. Yemeni security forces eventually repelled the attack with the aid of air bombardments, and forced the gunmen to withdraw. At least 15 militants were killed in the attack, five of whom have been identified as Saudi nationals. An additional 12 Yemeni soldiers were killed and 11 were wounded in the attack.
- Yemeni Counter Terrorism Units (CTU) conducted a series of three raids against AQAP in Sana’a governorate on May 25. The first raid, which occurred in the towns of Bayt al Adhari and Bani Hakam in Arhab district, targeted both an AQAP hideout and a VBIED production facility. The second and third raids targeted additional AQAP hideouts in the Shamlan and Tunisia Street neighborhoods of Sana’a capital. At least two Yemeni officers were killed and four were wounded during the initial raid in Arhab district. Military officials report that five AQAP militants were killed during the raids, one of whom has been identified as operational AQAP commander Saleh Hadi Tayes. Tayes was linked to a number of prominent terrorist operations in Yemen, including the recent assassination of a delegate to the National Dialogue Conference on January 21, 2014.
- Al Houthi rebels clashed with Yemeni security forces near the town of al Jannat in Amran governorate on May 25. Reports indicate that al Houthi rebels launched mortar shells into al Jannat and the nearby mountainous area of al Mekshash targeting buildings owned by members of the al Islah party, a group with whom the al Houthis have frequent disagreements. At least 25 al Houthis and five Yemeni soldiers were killed in the clash, with an unknown number of individuals wounded.
- Yemeni security forces defused a VBIED in Bayhan district in Shabwah governorate on May 26. Separately, Yemeni security forces defused an improvised explosive device (IED) found at a lunch venue for the Yemeni military in Sana’a capital on May 27. Finally, a roadside IED detonated in a market in al Dhaleh governorate on May 27. Immediately following the explosion, Yemeni soldiers fired indiscriminately into the crowd, killing one civilian. Two Yemeni soldiers were also killed in the explosion.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants conducted a complex attack on the Somali Parliament compound in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu on May 24. The attack began when a SVBIED detonated near a gate outside the compound. The other militants, consisting of an unspecified number of gunmen and at least one suicide bomber, then assaulted the compound. A Somali police spokesman reported that ten government forces were killed, 14 government forces and four lawmakers injured, and six militants killed during the attack. However, al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab claimed that the attack killed thirty AMISOM and Somali Security forces. After the attack, al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, threatened Somali lawmakers, stating that al Shabaab will continue to target Somali members of parliament throughout Mogadishu.
- Two unidentified assailants, suspected to be a Somali man and woman, conducted a grenade attack on a restaurant, popular among Westerners, in the capital city of Djibouti on May 24. The assailants hurled two grenades at the restaurant, killing a Turkish national and injuring at least 14 others. Reports indicate that the two assailants were also killed in the blasts. Although the location of the attack suggests that the assailants were specifically targeting Westerners, the exact motivation remains unclear as no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants ambushed a Kenyan military vehicle in Milimani, along the Kenya-Somalia border, on May 26. The vehicle was transporting supplies from Lamu, Kenya, to Ras Kamboni, Somalia as it was attacked by a group of approximately ten gunmen. A Lamu police official reported that two Kenyan soldiers were killed and several others injured during the incident.
- Somali security forces conducted a raid targeting suspected al Shabaab militants in the Yaqshid district of Mogadishu on May 26. The raid sparked fighting between the security forces and the suspected militants, which left one person dead and another injured. Reports indicate that several of the suspects were arrested after the confrontation. Separately, Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) forces raided the home of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a Somali Islamist formerly linked to al Shabaab, in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu on May 26. The NISA forces seized Aweys’ personal electronic devices, including his laptop, mobile phone, and television, during the raid. The operation came 11 days after Aweys released a public statement criticizing the various Somali regional administrations for serving as Ethiopian proxies.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked an AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) military base in Garas near Wajid in Bakool region on May 27. The attack prompted clashes between the militants and security forces, reportedly causing 27 total deaths. Separately, al Shabaab militants ambushed qat traders near Yasooman in Hiraan region on May 25. The ensuing confrontation featured heavy exchanges of gunfire, killing three al Shabaab militants and two qat traders.