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: Ceasefire in Sana’a breaks down; security forces clash with protestors in Taiz; clashes continue in Zinjibar; three French aid workers go missing in Sayun, Hadramawt; defected army units urge loyalist troops not to shoot civilians; U.S. Embassy condemns use of violence and urges transition; EU foreign affairs chief condemns violence in Taiz, urges transition; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemns violence in Taiz
Horn of Africa: AMISOM and TFG troops capture African Village in continuing Mogadishu thrust; TFG troops relinquish captured territory over wage disputes; Shabelle Valley Administration fighters clash with al Shabaab militants in Hiraan region; TFG troops clash with al Shabaab militants in Luq in the Gedo region; AMISOM foils suicide attack in Mogadishu; Ras Kamboni troops clash with al Shabaab militants in Lower Jubba region; top TFG military officer pledges to push al Shabaab out of Mogadishu; Uganda warns of possible al Shabaab attacks; explosion in Mogadishu's Dharkenley district wounds six civilians; Somali PM lends support to upcoming consultation meeting; chairman of businessmen in Bakara urges end to combat around Bakara Market
Yemen Security Brief
- The negotiated ceasefire in the capital collapsed. According to the terms of the truce, tribesmen would withdraw from government buildings and hand them over to mediators as well as begin to "normalize life" in Sana'a's al Hasaba district. Explosions were heard in Sana’a’s al Hasaba district late May 29 and by May 31, clashes had resumed. At least three tribesmen were killed. Yemen’s defense ministry reported that tribesmen occupied the headquarters of the General People's Congress, the ruling party, and the water utility's headquarters. AFP reported clashes around central security headquarters and around the headquarters of the state news agency.
- Yemeni security forces clashed with protestors in Taiz. On May 29, security forces stormed the central square, reportedly setting fire to tents and using bulldozers to remove them. The UN reports that as many as fifty people were killed in the crackdown. Clashes continued in Taiz and at least seven people were killed on May 31. Security forces used gunfire to prevent large anti-government demonstrators from assembling in the city.
- Al Qaeda-linked militants control Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate. Residents reported that three hundred militants captured the city on May 27. On May 29, three militants and three civilians were killed in clashes with residents and a handful of remaining soldiers. On May 30, four Yemeni soldiers were killed and at least seven soldiers were wounded when al Qaeda-linked militants ambushed a military convoy en route to Zinjibar. The Yemeni air force began bombing Zinjibar on May 30. Tariq al Fadhli, a leader within the Southern Movement and a former mujahideen who fought in Afghanistan, described the city as "catastrophic," with "corpses littering streets, water and electricity cut off, and hospitals no longer functioning."
- Three French aid workers went missing in Sayun, Hadramawt, on May 28. On May 30, security officials discovered the aid workers' vehicle along the road to Shibam.
- General Abdullah Ali Aleiwa, the former Yemeni defense minister, read a statement from defected army units urging troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh to disobey orders to shoot civilians or defected troops. The statement said, "We call on you not to follow orders to confront other army units or the people."
- The U.S. Embassy to Yemen in Sana'a released a statement condemning the use of violence against demonstrators and urged Saleh to transition power: "The U.S. Embassy in Sana'a condemns the unprovoked and unjustified attack on peaceful demonstrators in Taiz on the evening of May 29th, in which several demonstrators were killed and many more wounded. We commend the youth protesters who have shown both resolve and restraint and have made their viewpoint known through non-violent means...We reiterate President Obama's recent call for President Saleh ‘to move immediately on his commitment to transfer power.’" The statement also urged all parties in Yemen to include the youth.
- Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, released a statement condemning the use of violence in Taiz: "I am shocked and condemn in the strongest terms the use of force and live ammunition against peaceful protesters in the city of Taiz. Reports of attacks on medical facilities are appalling. The continued repression by the Yemeni regime and grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law cannot be accepted. Those responsible for such deeds must be held accountable. It is now time, without further pretexts, to sign and implement the GCC initiative on political transition.”
- Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the use of violence against protestors in Taiz, citing unconfirmed reports that over fifty protestors had been killed. Pillay said, "Such reprehensible acts of violence and indiscriminate attacks on unarmed civilians by armed security officers must stop immediately...I urge all sides to cease the use of force and I remind the Government of its responsibility to ensure that the fundamental human rights of its citizens are protected...Medical staff and facilities must never be targeted by security forces...I urge all parties to continue efforts aimed at finding a peaceful solution to this conflict." Pillay also expressed concern over the growing humanitarian crisis in Zinjibar as al Qaeda-linked militants continue to clash with security forces.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- AMISOM and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops captured African Village on May 27. The Mogadishu neighborhood had been an al Shabaab stronghold. Colonel Oscar Nzohabonimana, the commander of the operation, said, "We will continue to capture more grounds in order to liberate more Somalis from the Al-Shabaab brutal oppression. In our advancement, we will always be mindful of civilians' properties and lives, especially public spaces such as Bakara Market."
- TFG troops in Gedo region deserted territory captured from al Shabaab. The troops were protesting the non-payment of their monthly wages.
- Fighters from Shabelle Valley fought with al Shabaab militants in Halgan district in Hiraan region on May 28. At least three people were killed when al Shabaab militants launched hit-and-run attacks on Shabelle Valley military bases.
- TFG troops clashed with al Shabaab militants in Luq in the Gedo region. At least one person was killed and two others were wounded.
- AMISOM spokesman Major Paddy Ankunda reported that AMISOM troops "foiled a suicide attack by extremist insurgents." Ankunda reported that "several extremists disguised as Somali government soldiers attacked the AMISOM position at Shakala guarded by both AU and Ahlu Sunna Waljamaa forces” along Makka al Mukarama Road. The al Shabaab militants drove a car at the base and fired on the guards in an attempt to gain entry. Three militants were killed, including a would-be suicide bomber who reportedly ran toward Hamar Weyne district. Two peacekeepers were killed and four others, including an Ahlu Sunna fighter, were injured. Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, reported that al Shabaab killed and wounded over thirty AMISOM and TFG soldiers. Rage alleged senior officials were killed in the attack.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked a Ras Kamboni base in Lower Jubba region. At least four people were killed and dozens more were injured.
- General Abdikarim Yusuf Dhega-badan, the commanding officer of the TFG's troops, pledged to push al Shabaab militants out of Mogadishu, saying, "As you see our forces were approaching the main market of the capital, [Bakara] and we are determined to eradicate Al-Shabab elements from this town...Government forces are not only intending to take over [Bakara] market but also the whole districts of the capital city."
- Abbas Byakagaba, the director of the Ugandan police anti-terrorism unit, warned that al Shabaab may target popular events such as the upcoming Champions League final soccer match and events for Martyr’s Day, which is on June 3.
- An explosion in Mogadishu's Dharkenley district wounded six civilians. Local sources reported that the explosion targeted TFG troops.
- Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said that he fully supports an upcoming consultation meeting to resolve the political rift within the TFG. Mohamed said, "I am greatly hopeful that the meeting should be a dialogue between Somali people and will he held in Mogadishu rather than a foreign country...I suggest the traditional elders and the civil society activists to be included to the country’s reconciliation process because I believe it is the time to reconcile all.”
- Ali Mohammed Siad, the chairman of businessmen in Bakara market, called for AMISOM and TFG troops and al Shabaab militants to end combat in and around the market. Siad reported that Bakara market had shut down.