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: At least 25 al Qaeda-linked militants killed in Abyan; violence continues despite GCC deal signing in Sana’a; Yemeni air force raid kills one civilian in Nihm and Yemeni warplanes kill 80 anti-government tribesmen in Arhab; al Houthis clash with Salafists in Sa’ada; Vice President Hadi names new prime minister of Yemen; Saleh offers amnesty to those who committed “follies” during crisis; kidnapped aid workers freed and returned to Aden
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab bans many western aid agencies; Ethiopia to consider sending troops to join AMISOM; al Shabaab warns Ethiopian troops not to intervene in Somalia; violence in northern Kenya kills three people; additional Ethiopian troops seen crossing into Somalia; roadside bomb hits TFG truck in Mogadishu killing six soldiers; al Shabaab attacks Dhusamareb; Kenyan airstrikes destroy two al Shabaab camps; unknown armed group attacks al Shabaab convoy near Jamame; bombs target TFG soldiers in Mogadishu; suspected al Shabaab militants attack police post and town near Mandera; two boys beheaded found in Afmadow
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni security forces shelled al Qaeda-linked militant held positions killing at least 13 militants and injuring dozens of others in Bajdar neighborhood, east of Zinjibar in Abyan governorate on November 24. Among those killed were reportedly a Saudi, an Egyptian, and a Bahraini. Yemeni security forces also killed nine more al Qaeda-linked militants and injured dozens of others in shelling and gun battles in the Bajdar and Badhrous neighborhoods, east of Zinjibar, in Abyan governorate on November 28. Among those killed were reportedly an Algerian, a Mauritian, a Saudi, and two Somali nationals. Separately, tribesmen allied to the Yemeni military ambushed a car carrying al Qaeda-linked militants on a road between Jaar and Zinjibar killing four militants on November 26. One of those killed in the ambush was reportedly an Iraqi national.
- Violence erupted after President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative on November 23. Pro-Saleh gunmen wearing civilian clothing fired upon protesters from rooftops and cars killing five protesters and injuring dozens of others along al Zubayri Street in Sana’a on November 24. In Taiz, 33rd Brigade troops shelled protesters killing two people and injuring four others. Violent clashes between Central Security Force and defected First Armored Division troops killed two people, one from each side, on November 25. On November 26, government forces attacked opposition tribesmen killing two civilians and injuring at least six others in Bani Hushaish district, south of Sana’a.
- The Yemeni air force conducted airstrikes in Nihm, north of Sana’a, on November 25. One civilian was reportedly killed and ten others injured. More than 25 houses were reportedly damaged in the strikes. Additionally, a Yemeni security official reported that government warplanes conducted strikes killing 80 anti-government tribesmen in Arhab district, north of Sana’a. The strikes were reportedly in response to the takeover of the 63rd Mountaineer Infantry Brigade military camp by anti-government tribesmen on November 21. The casualty numbers have not been independently verified.
- Al Houthi rebels attacked a Salafist school in Damaj in Sa’ada governorate, reportedly killing at least 24 Sunnis and injuring at least 61 others on November 27. Among the dead were reportedly six foreigners from the United States, Russia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The Yemeni Defense Ministry reported the death toll to be 32 people killed.
- Saba News Agency reported that Yemeni Vice President Abdul Rab Mansour al Hadi named opposition leader Mohammed Salem Basendwah as the interim Prime Minister on November 27. Basendwah is tasked with forming a government of national unity. On November 26, Hadi called for presidential elections to be held on February 21, 2012. U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan called Hadi to commend him for the quick announcement for elections to be held on February 21, 2012. Brennan also called upon Hadi to ensure that Yemen’s ruling party work peacefully alongside opposition groups in the coming weeks and months to ensure a peaceful transition and full implementation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative. Brennan reaffirmed the United States’ support for the Yemeni government and people as they “pursue a more secure, prosperous, and democratic future.”
- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued a decree offering general amnesty to those who had committed “errors” during Yemen crisis; however, Saleh stated that those “groups or parties or individuals” who were responsible for his assassination attempt will not be granted amnesty and must be “brought to justice.” A spokesman for the opposition, Houriya Mashhur, stated that Saleh’s amnesty announcement was in violation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative saying, "He no longer has the right, nor the prerogative or the capacity to take such decisions."
- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) released a statement saying "two International Committee of the Red Cross staff members and a Yemen Red Crescent Society volunteer who had been briefly held by armed individuals in a village in Lahij governorate, southern Yemen, returned to Aden today." The aid workers were kidnapped on November 22 and returned to Aden November 24.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab announced a ban on 16 humanitarian aid agencies and its militants forcibly closed offices in Beledweyne and Baidoa, seizing equipment. The group’s Office for the Supervision of the Affairs of Foreign Agencies (OSAFA) completed a review and published a report that claimed the agencies worked against the full establishment of shari’a. OSAFA accused the groups of misusing funds and working to promote secularism. A senior al Shabaab official said that the aid groups were not very active and their closure would not increase the impact of the famine on the people. Al Shabaab pointed out that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and the Italian group, Copi, were not closed down.
- Members of the East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on November 25. IGAD called on Ethiopia to support the Kenyan and TFG operation against al Shabaab in Somalia.
- Al Shabaab warned Ethiopia against deploying troops to Somalia. The statement said, “This intervention will not be different than that of yesterday and will lead to heavy loss of your soldiers' lives, and be assured that ahead of you is painful death and ruthless imprisonment which will impact on the good living standards you wished for.” Sheikh Ibrahim Mohamed, an al Shabaab commander, said, “Let them come and sniff the kind of gunpowder we have here.”
- Several attacks in northern Kenya killed three people and wound at least 26 others. Kenyan North Eastern provincial police chief Leo Nyongesa said that two grenade attacks occurred on November 24, one at a restaurant and one targeting a group of people outside. The attacks killed three people and wounded 15 others. Separately, a military truck struck a roadside bomb near Mandera that killed one soldier and seriously injured four others. The truck was transporting thirteen soldiers.
- Residents reported that they have seen additional convoys of Ethiopian troops and tanks heading towards Guriel and Beledweyne. Ahmed Muhudin Ugas, a resident of Balanbal, said, “We have seen heavily armed Ethiopian troops with tanks heading to Guriel and Baladwayne. There are many more of them and (they are) more armed than last week . . . since yesterday afternoon I counted over 100 armed trucks with tanks; their convoy has not stopped yet."
- A roadside bomb exploded at the San’a junction in northern Mogadishu, hitting an armed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) vehicle. Six soldiers were killed and seven others injured in the blast.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked Dhusamareb in Galgudud region, which is controlled by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a, on November 25. The militants were repelled after Ahlu Sunna reinforcements arrived from Guriel in Galgudud region.
- The Kenyan air force conducted air strikes targeting al Shabaab’s Wamaitho and Kisima camps located near the town of Badhadhe. Seven al Shabaab militants were killed and eight others wounded. Kenyan and Somali troops also attacked an al Shabaab camp in Hawino between Dhobley and Taabta. Three al Shabaab militants were killed.
- An unidentified armed group ambushed an al Shabaab vehicle near Jamame in Lower Jubba region on November 24. Two people were killed and four injured during the fighting. The vehicle was headed towards Lower Shabelle region.
- Three roadside bombs detonated in Mogadishu. The first exploded in Yaqshid district, killing three TFG soldiers and two civilians. A group of officers were conducting a search after locals reported the presence of explosives. The second exploded in the Karan district, killing two soldiers and three civilians. The third exploded in Hodan district, but no casualties were reported. A bomb also exploded in the Mother and Child Hospital in Mogadishu, wounding three people.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked a police post in Arabia, 60 km from Mandera at the Ethiopian-Kenyan-Somali border, and fought and subdued the officers stationed there. The militants seized weapons and ammunition and burned a communications tower. No casualties were reported.
- Two beheaded bodies were found in Afmadow in Lower Jubba region. Locals report that al Shabaab had arrested the two several days ago accusing the two youths of spying for the TFG and guiding Kenyan airstrikes.