Gulf of Aden
Yemen: Separatists free kidnapped Yemeni soldiers; FBI director discusses counterterrorism with Yemeni president; Reporters Without Borders lists Yemeni president as enemy of press freedom; al Houthis kill two in Jawf
Horn of Africa: Somali pirates seize tanker with $52 million worth of oil aboard; gunmen kill prominent journalist in Mogadishu; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a pledges to continue fight in Mogadishu; Puntland forces continue search for murder suspects; Hizb al Islam commander killed by gunmen; al Shabaab accuses American security firm of mosque bombings; al Qaeda senior commander in Somalia reportedly killed
Yemen Security Brief
- Southern separatists freed two Yemeni soldiers in Lahij after the government promised to resolve the issue of two jailed southern leaders, who were not released. The kidnappers had hoped to secure the release of the two leaders in exchange for the soldiers.
- FBI director Robert Mueller met with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a on Tuesday to discuss counterterrorism cooperation. Saleh reiterated his request that the United States repatriate the Yemeni detainees being held in the military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
- The journalist rights group Reporters Without Borders placed Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on its list of the top 40 enemies of press freedom. The list also included other regional leaders like Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
- The Yemeni Interior Ministry reports that al Houthi rebels killed two shepherds in Jawf governorate in northern Yemen. The Interior Ministry said the attack was unprovoked, and that a search was underway for the assassins. If true, the killing would represent the latest in a string of alleged violations of the almost three month old ceasefire between the government and the al Houthis.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali pirates have captured a Russian oil tanker carrying $52 million worth of cargo off of the Yemeni coast. A Russian naval vessel is tracking the ship, which was en route from Sudan to China when it was boarded by pirates.
- The body of a prominent journalist was found in a street Tuesday evening after gunmen abducted him earlier that day. Sheikh Nur Abkey worked for Radio Mogadishu, which has been critical of Islamist militants fighting in the capital.
- Following intense fighting in Mogadishu on Tuesday, Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a pledged to keep fighting in the disputed Hodan and Hawl-Wadag districts of the capital. Fighters in the area were seen removing headscarves from women travelling through the neighborhood.
- Security forces in Puntland are searching for several murder suspects after a brace of killings in Bosaaso on Tuesday. It is unknown who is behind the recent murders.
- A leader of the Islamist militant group Hizb al Islam was killed Wednesday. Abdiwahid Hussein Hassan was shot dead by gunmen in Hawa Abdi Village, 20 km south of Mogadishu. The militia leader was shot as he left a mosque early Wednesday morning.
- A senior al Shabaab official accused the American security firm Xe, formerly Blackwater, of planning the recent mosque bombings in Somalia. Sheikh Fu’ad Muhammad Khalaf, who was in one of the mosques at the time of the bombing, said he believed the security firm was behind the blasts, aided by the transitional government.
- TFG forces have reportedly killed a senior al Qaeda commander Monday during clashes with al Shabaab forces in northern Mogadishu. The al Qaeda commander, Anwar Mohamed Abubakar, was an Egyptian national and the third al Qaeda commander killed in Mogadishu in recent months.