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: Armed gunmen attack, loot UNICEF aid convoy; Yemeni state media accuses al Houthis of violating newly signed peace deal; two killed, seven others wounded in Lahij governorate; tribesmen attack security headquarters in Shabwah governorate; Reporters Without Borders urges Yemeni president to release imprisoned journalists; one soldier killed, another injured in al Qaeda attack in Abyan governorate; security forces capture al Qaeda militant in Abyan; IMF announces $370 billion in aid to Yemen over three years; fourteen al Qaeda suspects arrested in Abyan; weapons seized in Sana’a; sixty Somali refugees arrive by boat in Abyan and Taiz governorates; Yemeni government adopts new policies to fight al Qaeda, according to NSA chief

Horn of Africa: Somali president issues cautious statement on draft constitution; AMISOM peacekeepers establish additional bases in Mogadishu; UN reports 22,000 more civilians displaced by fighting; Red Cross says that Somalis swamp hospitals after continued violence; ONLF warns foreign oil and gas firms; Somali president fires top military commanders; UN official urges Somali president to reach out to dissident groups; Hizb al Islam releases detainees for Ramadan; al Shabaab amputates hands of two men; four killed, fifteen others wounded in sporadic fighting Monday; al Shabaab spokesman says militants prepared to bring thousands of fighters into Mogadishu; Puntland officials warn against use of TFG currency; UN Special Representative meets with Somali president in Mogadishu; three civilians killed, 23 others wounded as fighting continued Tuesday; Indian warship foils attempted hijacking by Somali pirates

Yemen Security Brief

  • Armed al Osaimat tribesmen attacked and looted a UNICEF convoy carrying $44,000 worth of aid intended for IDPs in Sa’ada governorate, the Interior Ministry reported Saturday. The gunmen are believed to be affiliated with the al Houthi rebels in Amran governorate.[1]

  • Yemeni state media accused al Houthi rebels of violating a newly signed peace deal Sunday by deploying militants along the main highway linking Harf Sufyan and Sa’ada. The report also said that the peace deal is unlikely to succeed in the current environment.[2]  

  • Two people were killed and seven others were injured Sunday in clashes between security forces and militants in Lahij governorate in southern Yemen. Local sources report that the fighting began while security forces were setting up checkpoints between al Habilain and Habeel Jabr in Radfan.[3]

  • Armed tribesmen attacked a security headquarters in Shabwah governorate Monday, a tribal source reported to News Yemen. The source said the attack was revenge for the killing of a tribal member by security forces on Saturday. A security official confirmed that there were no casualties in the attack.[4]

  • Reporters Without Borders (RWB) issued a statement Sunday urging President Saleh to release two prisoners who were arrested in mid-August. Abdulelah Hidar Shaea and Kamal Sharaf, both journalists, were reportedly arrested by security forces on August 16 and 17, respectively. “It is unacceptable that the authorities have said nothing about the fate of these two journalists, who were arrested by the security forces,” RWB said. “We urge President Saleh to have them released.”[5]

  • One soldier was killed and another injured Friday in Abyan governorate when al Qaeda militants attacked the soldiers’ vehicle, security officials reported. Security forces are currently searching for those responsible.[6]

  • Security forces captured Jaber Ali al Qaifi, a suspected al Qaeda militant in Abyan governorate, the Interior Ministry announced Saturday. Al Qaifi was reportedly stopped on his motorcycle without proper documentation outside of the town of Lawder.[7]

  • The International Monetary Fund announced a three-year, $369.8 million support package for Yemen on Sunday. The aid package was approved by the IMF Executive Council in July.[8]

  • Security forces in Lawder said Sunday that they have arrested fourteen suspected al Qaeda militants in a security sweep. Four suspects were arrested in security checkpoints, including AQAP operative Salah al Dhabani, who was arrested last week in Amshah.[9]

  • Security forces confiscated eleven grenades and one gun from a man walking in the al Sab’een district of Sana’a Monday, according to the Interior Ministry.[10]

  • Nearly sixty Somali refugees, including thirteen women and five children, arrived by boat in Abyan and Taiz governorates Monday, according to the Interior Ministry. 37 of the refugees came ashore on the Ahwar coast in Abyan, while the other 23 came ashore at Thubab. Officials said that the refugees were sent to a Somali refugee camp in Lahij governorate.[11]

  • Yemeni National Security Agency Chief Ali al Anesi announced Monday that Yemen has adopted new policies to fight AQAP and terrorism throughout the country. Anesi said that the package “would cover the media, educational, cultural, development and legal aspects in addition to the proactive security operations to counter terrorism in the country.” Anesi did not provide any specifics about the new policies.[12]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed spoke for the first time Saturday about the draft constitution recently presented by the Independent Federal Constitution Commission. In his statement to the media, President Ahmed said that “while the draft constitution is an improvement over the current Transitional Federal Charter, it still requires further scrutiny and input from Somali citizens, legal experts, Islamic scholars, and members of parliament to ensure that it is a true expression of the will of the Somali people.” He also said that the approval process should not be subjected to “political maneuverings by Somali politicians.”[13]

  • AMISOM peacekeepers have established nine new bases in Mogadishu in recent months, an AMISOM official said Friday. The new bases have been established over the past five months and “follows an abandoned plan for a dramatic offensive by government forces earlier this year.”  Currently, there are around 7,200 AMISOM troops in Somalia.[14]

  • Fighting in Mogadishu has led to the displacement of at least 22,000 more civilians and relief agencies have suspended their operations throughout the capital city. Nearly 14,000 of the displaced are believed to have left the city, while another 7,200 joined 366,000 other internally displaced persons along the Afgoi corridor.[15]

  • The International Red Cross announced last week that at least 200 people have sought surgical care at two city hospitals during the latest round of fighting. Benjamin Wahren, the International Committee of the Red Cross’ deputy aid chief for the Horn of Africa, told reporters in Geneva that he didn’t see how the situation “could worsen at the moment.”[16]

  • The Ogaden National Liberation Front warned foreign oil and gas firms Monday to stay out of Ethiopia and rejected government claims that the disputed Ogaden region was now safe for exploration companies. The ONLF was responding to the country’s mines and energy minister, Alemayehu Tegenu, who last week said the area was secure.[17]

  • Iran’s Press TV reports that Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed fired military chief General Mohamed Gelle Kahiye Sunday, along with several other top military and police commanders. The move comes after thousands of weapons were reportedly stolen from the Somali government and sold to al Shabaab fighters.[18]

  • UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe, who visited Mogadishu last week, called on the TFG to reach out to dissidents “in order to strengthen its authority.” Pascoe said that “it is crucial to show the long suffering people of Somalia that the government can deliver basic services” and encouraged TFG leaders to reach out to other groups while focusing on governing the country.[19]

  • Hizb al Islam released several detainees from jails in Afgoi in southern Somalia, officials said Saturday. Sheikh Ali Sheikh Omar, Hizb al Islam’s head of information affairs, told reporters that the group released prisoners in deference to Ramadan, adding that more prisoners would be released in the coming days.[20]

  • Al Shabaab militants amputated the hands of two men in Beledweyne Saturday as punishment for alleged thefts. Al Shabaab said that the two men admitted to their crimes before the amputation.[21]

  • At least four people were killed and fifteen others wounded after sporadic fighting Monday between al Shabaab militants and TFG forces in Mogadishu. Officials reported that clashes continued in Hodan, Hawl Wadag and Bondhere.[22]

  • Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage said Monday that the militant group is prepared to bring thousands of fighters to Mogadishu. Rage also said that the aim of the increased force presence is to fight against AMISOM and government troops.[23]

  • Puntland officials warned residents Monday against the use of the TFG’s newly printed currency within the region. Puntland’s Information Minister Abdihakin Ahmed Guled said that officials burned more than ten million Somali shillings Sunday.[24]

  • The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, returned to Villa Somalia Tuesday for talks with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, according to a statement from the Ministry of Information. “Action speaks louder than words,” the Somali president said, “and our meeting today in Villa Somalia underlines the commitment of the UN to help both the TFG and the people of Somalia to restore peace, stability and prosperity to our country.”[25]

  • An emergency official reported Tuesday that three civilians were killed and 23 others wounded as fighting between al Shabaab militants and government forces entered its third week.[26]

  • An Indian warship foiled an attempt Sunday by Somali pirates to hijack twelve merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, an Indian navy spokesman said Monday. “A cache of arms and several fuel drums and ship boarding equipment were found,” the spokesman said, adding that seven Somalis and a Yemeni national were disarmed.[27]

[1] “Armed People Believed to be Houthis Loot UNICEF Aid Convoy,” Yemen Post, September 4, 2010. Available:
[2] “Government’s Peace Deal with Houthis Unlikely to Succeed, Official Media,” Yemen Post, September 5, 2010. Available:
[3] “2 Killed and 7 Injured in Lahj Clashes,” Yemen Post, September 5, 2010. Available:
[4] “Gunmen attack security headquarters in southern Shabwa,” News Yemen, September 6, 2010. Available:
[5] “RWB considers holding Yemeni journalists incommunicado as ‘forced disappearance,’” News Yemen, September 5, 2010. Available:
[6] “Soldier killed, another injured in terror attack in Abyan,” Saba News, September 3, 2010. Available:
[7] “Security bodies seize al Qaeda element of Arab nationality,” Saba News, September 4, 2010. Available:
[8] “IMF intends to launch $369.8 million three-year program,” Saba News, September 5, 2010. Available:
[9] “Fourteen al Qaeda suspects arrested in Abyan,” Saba News, September 5, 2010. Available:
[10] “Eleven grenades seized in Sana’a capital,” Saba News, September 6, 2010. Available:
[11] “60 Somali refugees reach Yemeni coasts,” Saba News, September 6, 2010. Available:
[12] “Yemen adopts new policies to uproot al Qaeda, NSA Chief,” Saba News, September 6, 2010. Available:
[13] “Somalia President Sharif Issues Cautious Statement on Draft Constitution,” Garowe Online, September 5, 2010. Available:
[14] “A.U. peacekeepers establish more bases in Somalia,” Associated Press, September 4, 2010. Available:
[15] “U.N. reports thousands more displaced by fighting in Somali capital,” U.N. News Centre, September 3, 2010. Available:
[16] “ICRC: Somalis swamp hospitals after 8 violent days,” Associated Press, September 5, 2010. Available:
[17] “Ethiopia rebels warn foreign firms are in danger,” Reuters, September 6, 2010. Available:
[18] “Somali president fires top commanders,” Press TV, September 6, 2010. Available:
[19] “U.N. official urges Somalia leader to reach out to dissident groups,” Garowe Online, September 5, 2010. Available:
[20] “Hizb al Islam releases detainees from jails in Afgoi,” Shabelle Media Network, September 4, 2010. Available:
[21] “Al Shabaab sentences two men to hand amputation in Beledweyn,” Shabelle Media Network, September 4, 2010. Available:
[22] “Four die in sporadic fighting, mortars in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, September 6, 2010. Available:
[23] “Al Shabaab: We shall bring hundreds of trained fighters in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, September 6, 2010. Available:
[24] “Puntland warns against use of newly printed money for Somali government,” Shabelle Media Network, September 6, 2010. Available:
[25] “President Welcomes Immediate Return Visit By U.N. Special Representative,” TFG, September 7, 2010. Available:
[26] “3 Somalis killed in fighting in Mogadishu,” Associated Press, September 7, 2010. Available:
[27] “Indian warship foils Somali pirate attack,” Shabelle Media Network, September 7, 2010. Available:
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