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: Two Emirati pilots die in Yemen; gunmen assassinate Salafi Sheikh in Aden city, southern Yemen; AQAP militants detonate IED in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills six civilians in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: October 14 al Shabaab Mogadishu attack may have intended to target Turkey military base; Mogadishu police interdict two vehicles with explosives; Kenyan electoral commission cannot assure free and fair re-run election; reported U.S. airstrike kills eight civilians in Lower Shabelle, southern Somalia 

Yemen Security Brief

The UAE announced the death of two Emirati pilots after their plane crashed in Yemen on October 17. The state run news agency attributed the crash to a technical failure. Local sources reported that al Houthi-Saleh forces downed an Apache helicopter in Abraqin area, Khabb wa ash Sha’af directorate, Jawf governorate, northern Yemen. Al Houthi-Saleh forces have not officially claimed responsibility, however. The UAE has announced four other plane crashes in Yemen since the start of Emirati engagement in the civil war.[1]

Gunmen assassinated Salafi imam Sheikh Fahd Mohammed Qasim al Younsi in al Mansura district, Aden city, southern Yemen on October 18. Hundreds of local residents participated in al Younsi’s funeral procession and called for the perpetrators of his murder be held accountable. Emirati-backed security forces arrested 11 Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah party members on October 11 and 12 allegedly in connection to the October 10 assassination of Salafi imam Yassin al Adani in Aden.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Emirati-backed al Hizam forces in Mudiyah city, northern Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on October 18. AQAP frames its attacks against Emirati-backed forces as in reprisal for violence against local populations.[3] 

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a private residence killing six civilians in Ruhum area, Bart al Anan district, al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen on October 17. Two Saudi-led coalition airstrikes also killed three civilians in Majz district, Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen earlier on October 17. The UN named the Saudi-led coalition on a blacklist for indiscriminately targeting children on October 5.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab’s October 14 vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack in Mogadishu intended to target Turkey’s new military base near Kadha district, according to Somali intelligence officials. Turkey officially opened the new base on September 30. Somali intelligence officials detained two suspects on October 18 linked to the October 14 Mogadishu bombing which killed over 300 Somalis. An al Shabaab militant driving one of the VBIEDs crashed into a fuel truck in front of the Safari hotel while attempting to flee security forces after being stopped at a checkpoint. A Somali intelligence official stated al Shabaab built the VBIEDs outside the town of Afgoi, Lower Shabelle, 30 kilometers from Mogadishu. Somali forces control the town but al Shabaab controls the surrounding rural area. One of the suspects was a former Somali National Army soldier from Barire town, where Somali forces supported by U.S. troops killed ten civilians in August.[5] 

Somali police interdicted two vehicle borne improvised explosive devices in Waberi district, Mogadishu, southern Somalia on October 17. U.S. private security firm Bancroft defused the VBIEDs.[6]

The chairman of Kenya’s electoral commission Wafula Chebukati announced he cannot assure voters a fair re-run election because of political pressures and violent threats toward the commission on October 18. Election Commissioner Roselyn Akombe resigned and fled to the U.S. after receiving numerous death threats against her family on October 17. Opposition leader Raila Odinga also withdrew from the re-run election and called for daily protests against the election commission’s leadership and for a fresh, fair election. Opposition protesters interrupted poll training sessions on October 17.[7]

A reported U.S. airstrike killed eight civilians in Barire, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on October 17. A Somali military officer claimed the U.S. airstrike targeted an al Shabaab convoy. Al Shabaab recaptured Barire from Somali National Army forces on October 14.[8]


[1] “General Command of UAE Armed Forces announces martyrdom of two pilots in Yemen,” Emirates News Agency, October 17, 2017,; “Downed Apache aircraft in al Jawf,” Khabar Agency, October 17, 2017,; and “A UAE warplane crashes in al Jawf and kills its crew,” Al Motamar, October 17, 2017,
[2] “The assistant secretary general of the association of Aden scholars was killed by unknown gunmen,” Al Masdar, October 18, 2017,; and “Hundreds of mourners escort the body of Sheikh al Younsi amidst a state of shock and anger,” Aden Tomorrow, October 18, 2017,
[3] AQAP targets al Hizam forces in Abyan, Telegram, October 18, 2017; and “A martyr from al Hizam and a number of wounded in a terrorist attack in Mudiyah,” Aden Lang, October 18, 2017,
[4] “An Arab airstrike targeting a house in al Jawf killing six civilians and wounding one,” Al Masdar, October 18, 2017,; “A new Saudi massacres a whole family of victims in al Jawf,” Khabar Agency, October 18, 2017,; and “Air agression kills a whole family in al Jawf,” Yemen Today TV, October 18, 2017,
[5] “The Latest: 2 arrested in connection with Somalia bombing,” ABC News, October 18, 2017,; ;Harun Maruf, "Intel Official Says Turkish Military Base Was 'Target' of Somalia Truck Bomb," VOA, October 17, 2017,; and Jason Burke, “Somalia bombing may have been revenge for botched US-led operation,” October 17, 2017,
[6] “American bomb experts called in as two suspects and truck are impounded in Mogadishu,” Radio Dalsan, October 17, 2017,
[7] Duncan Miriri and Katharine Houreld, “Kenyan election board head not certain vote will be free and fair,” Reuters, October 18, 2017,
[8] “Eight civilians wounded in airstrike near Bariire,” Garowe Online, October 17, 2017,

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