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: Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on al Houthi prison kill scores; Saudi Arabia deploys additional troops to southern Yemen; al Houthi movement claims missile attack on Saudi airport

Horn of Africa: Djiboutian AMISOM forces deploy to Galmudug State capital; al Shabaab militants ambush Djiboutian forces in Hiraan region; suspected al Shabaab militants detonate VBIED at Mogadishu checkpoint; al Shabaab claims registration of over 600 clan elders

Yemen Security Brief

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes on an al Houthi-controlled prison in Dhamar governorate in central Yemen on September 1. The Saudi-led coalition claimed that the site held stores of missiles and drones. The al Houthi movement denied this claim. The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross estimated that 100 prisoners died in the airstrikes. The UN called for an investigation into the incident.[1]

Saudi Arabia deployed additional forces to Aden, Yemen’s de facto capital, and Ataq, the capital of Shabwah governorate in southern Yemen, on September 3. The Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a UAE-backed southern Yemeni secessionist group, has clashed with Saudi-backed Yemeni forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government since the STC seized Aden in early August. Much of the fighting has occurred in and around Aden as well as in Ataq.[2]

The al Houthi movement claimed to fire Badr-1 missiles at Najran regional airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia on September 3. The Saudi-led coalition did not comment on the claim.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Djiboutian forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) deployed to Dhusamareb town, the capital of Galmudug State in north-central Somalia, on August 31. The forces deployed from a base in Beledweyne town in neighboring Hiraan region. The Ethiopian commander of AMISOM, Yilma Tigabu, had previously met with Galmudug State and Somali Federal Government (SFG) officials in Dhusamareb on August 30 to discuss deploying additional AMISOM forces to Dhusamareb ahead of a clan reconciliation conference in the town and upcoming regional elections.[4]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed Djiboutian AMISOM forces near an AMISOM base in Bulo Burde town in Hiraan region in central Somalia on September 3. AMISOM forces repulsed the attack.[5]

Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) at a checkpoint in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on September 2. Gunmen attempted to storm the checkpoint following the blast, but Somali police repulsed the attack and killed a militant. The attack killed at least three people, including police officials.[6]

Al Shabaab claimed on September 3 to have registered 635 clan elders across Somalia over the course of 45 days. Al Shabaab had issued a warning to clan elders in July to repent for facilitating democracy in Somalia or face consequences. The group had asked all those who repented to register themselves with the group. Al Shabaab announced in its September 3 statement that it would grant clan elders a ten-day extension to register with the group. Al Shabaab claimed that 159 of the elders who repented were from the Buq Aqable area in Hiraan region.[7]

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[1] Dahlia Nehme, “Saudi-led coalition bombs Yemen prison, scores killed,” Reuters, September 1, 2019,; and “Red Cross says more than 100 killed in attack on Yemen prison,” Reuters, September 1, 2019,

[2] “Saudi Arabia boosts troop levels in south Yemen as tensions rise,” Reuters, September 3, 2019,

[3] “Barrage of Badr-1 Ballistic Missiles Hit Military Targets in Najran Airport,” al Masirah, September 3, 2019,

[4] “African Union troops deployed in central Somalia town,” Garowe Online, August 31, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 30, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 30, 2019,

[5] “Somalia’s Al Shabaab Targets AU Troops,” Mareeg, September 3, 2019,

[6] Mohammed Dhaysane, “At least 3 killed, 4 injured in Somalia suicide bombing,” Anadolu Agency, September 2, 2019,; and “Car bomb attack kills at least two people in Somalia,” Garowe Online, September 2, 2019,

[7] “Shabaab Alleges 635 Tribal Elders Repented for Facilitating Democracy, Extends Deadline for Others to Follow,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 3, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

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