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: Yemeni warplanes mistakenly kill at least 30 soldiers; al Qaeda-linked gunmen kill four soldiers in Zinjibar; mortar attack kills seven year-old girl in Sana’a; President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Defense comment on Awlaki death
Horn of Africa: French national kidnapped in Kenya by Somali gunmen; ambassador to Yemen urges Somalis in Yemen to return; U.S. spy planes seen in Hiraan; al Shabaab displays crashed drone; AMISOM to begin operating in all Mogadishu police stations; Ahlu Sunna urges peace; al Shabaab closes and then reopens telecom offices; al Shabaab shooting civilians in Middle Shabelle; two people dead from roadside bomb in Mogadishu; al Shabaab claims an attacks against a TFG meeting
Yemen Security Brief
- The Yemeni Air Force bombed the position of the 119th brigade in Bajdar, east of Zinjibar on October 1. Soldiers from the 119th brigade had taken up position in a school. Al Qaeda militants then reportedly attacked the school and killed wounded soldiers. Reports indicate that over thirty soldiers were killed. The Yemen Defense Ministry denied that the soldiers were killed in a friendly-fire incident. The 119th brigade defected, but it continues to fight al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan governorate.
- A military official reported that six suspected al Qaeda-linked militants were wounded and one soldier was killed in a firefight in Kod district, south of Zinjibar on September 30. Local officials and medics reported that al Qaeda-linked gunmen killed four Yemeni soldiers and critically wounded four other soldiers in ongoing gunfights in the Bajdar neighborhood, east of Zinjibar. Local officials also reported that al Qaeda-linked militants killed another nine soldiers and wounded 23 others in an ambush. Airstrikes killed 15 militants on October 2 in Zinjibar.
- Government forces continued to shell residential neighborhoods near the school, injuring six others, including two children. Gunfire was also reportedly heard near the defected First Armored Division’s headquarters as protests continued calling for Saleh’s ouster.
- President Obama stated that the killing of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al Awlaki this past year struck a major blow to al Qaeda. He also stated that “going forward we will remain vigilant to any threats” at a retirement ceremony for Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta agreed with the President’s comment and added that “by virtue of eliminating that leadership, I think it makes it much more difficult for Al Qaeda to develop the kinds of plans and operations for conducting large attacks abroad.” Panetta also reaffirmed the U.S. stance that U.S.-Yemeni counterterrorism operations in Yemen will not stop if President Saleh leaves power.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Marie Dedieu, a 66-year-old disabled French national, was abducted from her Kenyan home, located in the Lamu Archipelago, by gunmen, who then fled towards Somalia. The Kenyan coastguard chased the boat and there was a standoff at sea, but the kidnappers were able to escape to Ras Kamboni in southern Somalia. Kenyan authorities claim that the kidnappers are linked to al Shabaab.
- Acting Ambassador to Yemen Mukhtar Mohamed Hassan urged Somalis in that country to return home. He said that Yemen appears to be more dangerous than Somalia, citing the recent holding of several Somali nationals. He explains that the security situation in Somalia is much better than when the refugees left. He also said that the embassy was willing to help Somali nationals get back home.
- Locals report seeing drones over towns near the city of Beledweyne, including the town Bulo-Burde, an al Shabaab stronghold. The residents say that the drone sightings greatly concern the al Shabaab militants there.
- Al Shabaab exhibited the remains of a drone that crashed near Kismayo in Freedom Park on Friday, ordering people to come and view it. Abdirahman Sheikh Muddey, an al Shabaab leader, claims that the group shot it down as it was taking pictures of the city but some locals say they spotted the drone 13 km from the city center and then informed the militants as to its location. A local said that the drone was two meters long and had a motor vehicle engine.
- Steven Kasiima Munanura, police coordinator for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), said that they plan to expand police presence to all 16 police station in the Banadir region.
- Abdullahi Ahmed Samatar, head of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a’s communication office, said the group wanted a peaceful path forwards and urged al Shabaab to relinquish violence negotiate with them to end the fighting. He continued and said that the group would continue fighting if al Shabaab decline.
- Al Shabaab forced the offices of Nation Link and Telecom Somalia, two telecommunications companies operating in Lower and Middle Shabelle, and Dahabshiil, a Somali money-transfer company, in Kismayo and Jowhar to be closed. An official with one of the companies said that the group demanded that they pay money to support al Shabaab’s fight against the government. Today, the group allowed the offices to reopen after the companies reportedly paid a total of $100,000.
- Locals report that al Shabaab militants are shooting civilians randomly in the Middle Shabelle region. Casualties include a stockbroker in Jowhar’s market. The stockbroker, Abdi Abayle, was shot in the stomach and taken to a hospital for treatment.
- Two people were killed and three others wounded when a minibus was struck by a roadside bomb in northern Mogadishu. The attack happened in Karan district, an area vacated by al Shabaab several months ago.
- Al Shabaab claimed a mortar attack in the Banadir region against a Transitional Federal Government meeting attended by Transitional Federal Government President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The communiqué says that the group targeted Hotel Lafuen where the meeting was taking place killing and injuring several people. The president escaped unharmed. Another communiqué issued by the group reports that two government soldiers surrendered to al Shabaab in the Hiraan region and “repented” and spoke about the conditions government troops live in and the torture they receive from AMISOM forces.