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: UN Special Envoy expects Yemen peace talks by mid-November; ISIS affiliates assassinate intelligence officers in Aden and detonate VBIED in Sana’a; Ansar al Sharia attacks al Houthis in Ibb and al Bayda governorates; UN contractors detained in Yemen; cyclone threatens al Mukalla, Hadramawt

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab launches complex attack on hotel in Mogadishu; SNA and AMISOM forces repulse al Shabaab attacks near Hudur, Bakool region; SNA and AMISOM clear al Shabaab from villages near Dinsor, Bay region; SNA clears al Shabaab stronghold in Burwayne, Hiraan region; landmine kills five in Deynunay, Bay region

Yemen Security Brief

  • UN-led peace talks between the major combatants in Yemen are expected to begin by mid-November, according to UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. The UN is currently leading separate preliminary talks with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s coalition-backed Yemeni government in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and with the al Houthis and the Yemeni General People’s Congress in Muscat, Oman.[1]
  • Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Aden-Abyan assassinated two Yemeni intelligence officers in Aden on November 1. ISIS militants killed a Yemeni Political Security Organization officer in Hashid, Aden and a Yemeni National Security Bureau officer in Inma city, Aden. ISIS militants also seized a government media building in al Tawahi district, Aden on November 1, according to reports. ISIS Wilayat Sana’a militants also claimed credit for the detonation of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) near an al Houthi gathering at a security checkpoint in downtown Sana’a. No casualties have been reported.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)-affiliated Ansar al Sharia militants detonated a VBIED targeting an al Houthi gathering near the al Waha hotel in Ibb city, central Yemen on November 1. Ansar al Sharia also claimed credit for a November 1 grenade attack on an al Houthi vehicle in Ibb city. The attacks killed and wounded an unspecified number of people.  Ansar al Sharia also claimed credit for five attacks on al Houthi patrols in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen. No casualties have been reported.[3]
  • The UN announced that two UN contractors were detained in Yemen, but did not release additional details. A U.S. State Department official acknowledged but did not confirm reports that two U.S. citizens were detained at Sana’a airport.[4]
  • A hurricane-strength cyclone hit the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea on November 2, killing three people and injuring approximately 100. The gradually-weakening storm will likely make landfall near al Mukalla, Hadramawt on November 3. Yemen lacks the infrastructure to manage severe winds and flooding. AQAP, which currently administers al Mukalla through a proxy group, may not be well-positioned to respond to the storm.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants wearing Burundian military uniforms launched a complex attack on the Sahafi Hotel in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. The November 1 attack began when a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) detonated at the hotel’s main gate. Gunmen then stormed the premise. A second SVBIED targeting responders detonated shortly after the attack began. Gunmen held the hotel for approximately 6 hours before being defeated by Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces. At least 14 people were killed and 28 sustained injures in the attack. A former Somali general, a Somali member of parliament, as well as an unspecified number of foreign nations are among those killed in the attack.[6]
  • Government officials stated that SNA and AMISOM stationed on the outskirts of the Bakool region’s capital city of Hudur forces repulsed coordinated attacks by al Shabaab militants on October 31. The militants simultaneously attacked government forces in both Garasweyne and Moragabey villages, resulting in large clashes. SNA and AMISOM forces were able to fend off the assaults, killing approximately 50 militants in total. Pro-al Shabaab media outlets countered the government’s claims, instead saying that the villages were captured in the attacks.[7]
  • SNA and AMISOM forces successfully cleared two al Shabaab bases in Gubadley and Misirre villages, both located on the outskirts of Dinsor, Bay region. The clearing operations occurred on October 31, and SNA officials report that government forces killed ten militants in Misirre while sustaining one casualty of their own. Casualty figures from the operation in Gubadley are unavailable at present.[8] 
  • SNA forces successfully cleared an al Shabaab stronghold in Burwayne village, Hiraan region. During the clearing operation, which occurred on November 2, SNA forces killed six al Shabaab militants and wounded others before the remnants fled. This operation is part of a larger military effort to remove al Shabaab’s presence from the Hiraan region.[9] 
  • A landmine planted near a hotel in the Bay region’s Deynunay town detonated on October 31. The explosion killed up to five people, including both soldiers and civilians and wounded others. Authorities suspect al Shabaab planted the device, which appeared to target SNA forces. Following the explosion, local security forces launched operations to arrest the perpetrators.[10]
[1] “U.N. envoy says expects Yemen talks by mid-November,” Reuters, November 1, 2015. Available:  
[2] Pro-ISIS Twitter accounts. Sources available upon request.
“Militants from Daesh seize Aden Television and Radio building in al Tawahi,” Wefaq Press, November 1, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“Car bomb explosion in the center of the capital Sana’a,”, October 31, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[3] Pro-Ansar al Sharia Twitter accounts. Sources available upon request.
“Casualties from car explosion near al Houthi gathering in Ibb,” Al Masdar, November 1, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[4] “United Nations says two contractors detained in Yemen,” Reuters, October 31, 2015. Available:
[5] “Rare cyclone kills three on Yemeni island, heads for Qaeda-run city,” Reuters, November 2, 2015. Available:
[6] “BREAKING: Sahfi hotel under car bomb attack,” Shabelle News, November 1, 2015. Available:
“Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for Sahafi hotel attack,” Wacaal Media, November 1, 2015. Available:
“Burundian military uniforms wearing stormed Sahafi hotel, says minister,” Shabelle News, November 2, 2015. Available:
“Attackers donned burundi military uniforms says Minister,” Wacaal Media, November 2, 2015. Available:
“Kenyan killed in Somalia,” Goobjoog News, November 2, 2015. Available:
“29 injured from hotel Sahafi attack admitted at Madina Hospital,” Goobjoog News, November 1, 2015. Available:
“AU condemns Somalia hotel attack, Xinhua, November 2, 2015. Available:
[7] “Governor: At least 50 militants killed in fierce fighting near Hudur town,” Shabelle News, October 31, 2015. Available:
[8] “Somali troops overran key Al Shabaab bases near Diinsoor – Official,” Shabelle News, October 31, 2015. Available:
“Somalia: Govt troops clash with Al Shabaab near Diinsoor city, 10 militants dead,” Shabelle News, November 2, 2015. Available:
[9] “Somalia: Fierce fighting kills 6 near Bulo-Burde town in Hiiraan region,” Shabelle News, November 2, 2015. Available:
[10] “Huge blast rocks Deynuunaay town of Bay region,” Wacaal Media, October 31, 2015. Available:


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