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: AQAP militants target Hadi government-allied forces in Abyan governorate; militants declare unconfirmed ISIS wilayat in al Mahrah governorate; President Hadi announces no concessions for the al Houthi-Saleh alliance; Hadi government forces deploy reinforcements and seize positions in al Bayda governorate; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sa’ada, Hajjah, and Sana’a governorates

Horn of Africa: Female militants attack police station with petrol bomb in Mombasa, Kenya; Somali SOF kill al Shabaab commander in Qoryooley, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab claims attacks in Somalia and Kenya; AMISOM and SNA forces arrest al Shabaab explosives experts in Lower Jubba region; federal election talks break down

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) targeting Hijaz security forces, which are allied with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, in a police station in al Wuday district, Abyan governorate on September 11. AQAP forces also detonated a SVBIED targeting Hijaz security forces in a government building in Zinjibar city, Abyan governorate. Militants attempted to assassinate Police Chief Brigadier General Awad al Dahboul in Ataq city, Shabwah governorate on September 11.[1]
  • Three militants declared the formation of an Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) province (wilayat) in al Mahrah governorate, located along the Yemeni-Omani border, on September 10. Three masked men backed by an ISIS flag declared the wilayat in a low-quality video shared on social media. ISIS’s official media outlets have not reported on a wilayat in al Mahrah.[2]
  • President Hadi announced on September 11 that his government will not make any concessions to the al Houthi-Saleh alliance. President Hadi stated that any concessions to al Houthi-Saleh forces would be an insult to the Yemenis who have died in the ongoing civil war. Hadi government officials said on September 7 that they will not negotiate until the al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council, a competing government body, is abolished.[3]
  • Forces loyal to President Hadi’s government seized positions from al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im district, al Bayda governorate on September 9. Hadi government forces killed al Houthi-Saleh field commander Ghani Saleh Badawi in the clashes. The Hadi government deployed three brigades to Radman al Awad district, located in northern al Bayda governorate near Ma’rib governorate, on September 11.[4]
  • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sa’ada, Hajjah, and Sana’a governorates on September 10 and 11. Coalition airstrikes killed 21 civilians in Beit Saadan, Arhab district, northern Sana’a governorate. The Saudi-led coalition intensified its air campaign targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces and leadership responsible for cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia on September 7.[5] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Three women attacked a police station in Mombasa, Kenya on September 11 after entering the station on the pretense of reporting a stolen phone. One of the women threw a petrol bomb, igniting a fire in the station, while another stabbed an officer. The attack injured two police officers. Police killed the three attackers, who also carried two bulletproof vests and a second petrol bomb. Police arrested four suspected accomplices. A witness at the police station claimed that the women pledged allegiance to al Shabaab during the attack. Another source claimed that the attackers were inspired by al Muhajiroun, a pro-al Shabaab group in East Africa.[6]
  • Somali Special Operations Forces (SOF) from the U.S.-trained Danab unit killed an al Shabaab commander and six militants in Qoryooley, Lower Shabelle region on September 12. The militants were attempting to flee into Middle Shabelle region at the time of the raid.[7]
  • Al Shabaab’s Shahada News Agency claimed responsibility for a series of attacks between September 5 and 9. The group confirmed its responsibility for a September 6 mortar attack on the Somali presidential palace in Mogadishu and a September 9 improvised explosive device (IED) attack on Kenyan forces in Mandera County, Kenya.  Al Shabaab claimed to kill two Somali National Army (SNA) personnel in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region on September 5, recapture terrain near Budbud, Galgudud region on September 7, and kill 10 SNA troops in Cambareey on September 9. Shahada News Agency also reported that two Ethiopian AMISOM personnel died while attempting to dismantle an IED near Qansahdhere city, Bay region on September 5. These claims are not independently verified.[8]
  • African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and SNA forces arrested two al Shabaab explosives experts near Kismayo in Lower Jubba region on September 11.[9]
  • The leaders of the Jubbaland State and Puntland State autonomous regions walked out of federal election negotiations in Mogadishu on September 11 following disagreements over the composition of the Somali Federal Government’s Upper House. National Leadership Forum officials attempted to designate two additional seats for Somaliland, sparking objections from Galmudug State and Puntland State. Elections for the Upper and Lower Houses are scheduled to begin in late September.[10]


[1] “Killing and wounding 20 soldiers in a car bomb amid soldiers gathered in Abyan,” al Masdar, September 11, 2016,; “Abyan: al Qaeda attack military barracks in Zinjibar,” Barakish, September 11, 2016,; “Najat police chief # Shabwa assassination attempt,” Aden Times, September 11, 2016,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, September 11,2016,
[2] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, September 10, 2016,
[3] “Hadi: We will not make concessions to the coup impact the choices and sacrifices of the people of Yemen,” al Masdar, September 11, 2016,
[4] “Three brigades of the national army sent up to the outskirts of al Bayda after the directives of President Hadi,” al Masdar, September 12, 2016,; and “The death of the al Houthi leader (Badawi) with 18 others in al Bayda,” Barakish, September 09, 2016,
[5] “Coalition warplanes bombed Houthi positions in Sa’ada battles raging on border areas,” al Masdar, September 10, 2016,; “Coalition raids targeted weapons store for the Houthis in Sa’ada and  Midi Hajjah province,” al Masdar, September 10, 2016,; and Mohammed Ghobari, Sami Aboudi, and Katie Paul, “Saudi-led coalition raids kill at least 21 in Yemen,” Reuters, September 11, 2016,
[6] “Kenya kills three women attackers of Mombasa police station,” BBC, September 11, 2016,; Joseph Akwiri, “Robed women petrol-bomb police station in Kenya’s Mombasa,” Reuters, September 11, 2016,; and “Al-Muhajiroun’s Muhajirah 1st Stab on Terrorism In Kenya,” Intelligence Briefs, September 12, 2016,
[7] “Danab Commandos Killed an al-Shabaab Commander, 6 fighters in Qoryoley, Lower Shabelle,” Mareeg, September 12, 2016,
[8] “Shabaab claims dual assassination, attacks on military forces between September 5 and 9,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 9, 2016, available by subscription at
[9] “AU forces arrest 2 Al-Shabaab bombers in Somalia,” Xinhua, September 12, 2016,
[10] “Electoral talks on the verge of collapse as leaders walk out,” Goobjoog News, September 11, 2016,  
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