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: VBIED targets Sudanese troops in Aden; AQAP presence increases in Aden; anti-al Houthi forces advance in al Jawf

Horn of Africa: SNA forces engage al Shabaab militants, killing one in near Halgan, Hiraan region; unidentified gunmen kill imam in Abudwak, Galgudud region; gunmen opened attack oil tankers on the outskirts of Berbera, Woqooyi Galbeed region

Yemen Security Brief

  • A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) reportedly targeted Sudanese troops near Aden International Airport on October 22, killing nine soldiers. The BBC reported that gunmen at the blast site clashed with the Sudanese soldiers, who recently joined the Saudi-led coalition’s efforts to secure Aden. A Yemeni government official dismissed reports of the explosion as false news. No group has claimed responsibility for the alleged VBIED attack.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants are reportedly controlling Tawahi, one of the largest districts in Aden. AQAP’s flag was raised over the district police station and openly displayed on some cars. AQAP is increasing its presence throughout the city in the absence of government security forces. The Yemeni government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which is currently operating from Riyadh, has called for cooperation between government forces and local popular resistance militias to bolster security in the southern port city.[2]
  • Anti-al Houthi forces are advancing toward a strategic al Houthi-held military camp in al Jawf governorate in northern Yemen with support from Arab coalition airstrikes in the region. Al Jawf borders Saudi Arabia to the north, the al Houthi stronghold Sa’ada to the west, and Sana’a and Ma’rib governorates in central Yemen. The coalition-backed troops are reportedly attempting to impose a blockade on al Hazm, the al Houthi-held capital of the governorate.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali National Army (SNA) forces cleared a village of al Shabaab’s presence near Halgan area in the Hiraan region. SNA forces killed one al Shabaab militant in the attack and seized a weapons cache during the operation, which took place on October 22. Government forces now hold the village, which was previously used as a stronghold by al Shabaab.[4] 
  • Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a well-known Imam on October 21 as he was leaving a mosque in Abudwak town, Galgudud region. Local sources suspect Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a’s (ASWJ) involvement in the attack, although the group has made no comments on the incident. It should be noted that ASWJ issued a public statement on September 16, saying that it would launch an offensive to take Abudwak town from the regional Galmudug administration.[5]
  • Unidentified gunmen, in two separate instances, opened fire on oil tanker trucks driving along the road connecting Berbera to Hargeisa town, both of which are located in Somalia’s northern Woqooyi Gallbeed region. Authorities believe the attacks, which occurred on October 21, were perpetrated by individuals who are angry with the regional administration’s recent decision to privatize fuel storage depots in Berbera town.  Security forces from both Berbera and Hargeisa successfully pacified the situation and launched a subsequent manhunt for those responsible. No casualties were reported in the attacks.[6]

[1] “29 killed and 130 injured in bombing of Taiz neighborhoods, and nine soldiers killed in Aden explosion,” BBC Arabic, October 22, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“No truth to the car bomb explosion,” Aden Ghad, October 22, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[2]  “Qaeda makes Aden inroads under cover of Yemen conflict,” AFP, October 22, 2015. Available:
[3] “Violent battles in al Jawf, and the resistance advances near al Khanjar camp under intense air cover,” al Masdar, October 22, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[4] “Somali Govt troops killed al Shabaab member and seized weapons in fighting, says military,” Shabelle News, October 22, 2015. Available:
[5] “Armed gunmen kill imam in Abudwaak town,” Wacaal Media, October 22, 2015. Available:
[6] Sheikh, “Angry gunmen open fire on tank trailer in Somaliland,” Shan Sheeg, October 21, 2015. Available:
“Somalia : Berbera fuel depot privatization triggers gunfire,” Garowe Online, October 21, 2015. Available:
“Somalia: Somaliland Govt privatizes Berbera fuel depots,” Garowe Online, October 19, 2015. Available:
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