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Published On: Mon, Apr 18th, 2011

Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 18, 2011

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Yemen: AQAP militants attack army officer in Abyan; JMP says Saleh resignation nonnegotiable; mass demonstrations over Saleh’s speech throughout Yemen; crackdown in Sana’a injures over thirty people; over 88 people injured in Hudaydah; gunmen attack Aden police station

Horn of Africa: TFG troops backed by AMISOM forces attack al Shabaab bases in Mogadishu; TFG official accuses al Shabaab of blocking aid to drought-hit areas; TFG arrests 14 people allegedly linked to recent insecurity in Mogadishu; Hawiye elders urge al Shabaab to join reconciliation process; al Shabaab arrests 17 people for crimes against Islam; roadside bomb kills Puntland official; unknown gunmen attack two mosques in Galkayo; AMISOM force commander due to be replaced; Portugal to train TFG troops in urban warfare; Ethiopia increases support to Eritrean rebels; TFG requires permits for rallies in Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
•    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked and “seriously wound[ed]” a Yemeni army officer in Lawder, a town in Abyan governorate on April 16. A military spokesman said, “Two Al-Qaeda gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on the car of” the officer.[1]
•    The Yemeni opposition bloc, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), told the GCC that President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s departure is nonnegotiable. “We are sticking to our position,” said Mohammed Salem Basendwah, the head of the opposition Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue.[2]
•    Mass demonstrations sparked by President Saleh’s remarks that the mingling of the sexes at protests was “un-Islamic” occurred in Sana’a, Taiz, and other major cities on April 16. Over 100,000 people marched in Taiz against the government.[3]
•    Security forces cracked down on demonstrations in Sana’a on April 17. Over thirty people were reported injured by live rounds and 1,000 people suffered from tear gas inhalation. The clashes occurred along Algeria Street, about a mile outside of the normal protest zone. Reports say that the protestors were marching toward the house of Ahmed Saleh, Saleh’s son and head of the Central Security Forces. State news agency SABA reported that protestors threw stones at anti-riot police, wounding fourteen soldiers.[4]
•    Plainclothes security forces attacked protestors in Hudaydah, injuring at least 88 people. The protestors, who were staging a sit-in in the city square, were beginning to march into the side streets.[5]
•    Armed men attempted to storm a police station in Aden and fought with security forces for half an hour. Fire from a rooftop sniper drove the men back. Security forces are attempting to remove roadblocks in the city.[6]
Horn of Africa Security Brief
•    AMISOM and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops stormed al Shabaab bases in Mogadishu’s Hodan, Hawl Wadag, and Bondhere districts. A TFG official, Abdillahi Moallim, claimed that TFG soldiers, backed by AMISOM forces, killed some al Shabaab militants; al Shabaab military spokesman Sheikh Abdi Aziz Abu Mus’ab described the AMISOM attacks as “cowardly ambushes.” Casualty figures are currently unknown.[7]
•    TFG chairman of the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) humanitarian committee Mohamoud Abdi Aliyow accused al Shabaab of taking deliberate efforts to block international humanitarian aid from reaching drought-hit areas and added that the group has prevented access of over twenty aid agencies to areas under its control.[8]
•    Secretary of the regional Banadir administration Abdikafi Hilowle Mohamoud told Shabelle Media Network that the TFG arrested 14 people allegedly responsible for Mogadishu’s recent insecurity. Mohamoud added that some of the arrested were TFG soldiers. Recent TFG operations have been conducted in Hodan, Waberi, Hamar Weyne, Hamar Jabjab, and Shingane districts in Mogadishu.[9]
•    Hawiye elders urged al Shabaab to join the reconciliation process scheduled for June 11 to 16. The elders’ spokesperson Ahmed Diriye Ali said that al Shabaab ought to stop killing and intimidating Somalis and instead help restore peace to the country.[10]
•    Al Shabaab arrested 17 people accused of crimes against Islam in Afgoi, a town southwest of Mogadishu. Reports suggest that al Shabaab accused the people of selling and consuming alcohol and hashish.[11]
•    A roadside bomb in Galkayo killed Puntland’s director of the religious affairs ministry Sheikh Isma’il Hashi Hussein and injured two others. Hussein was assassinated after he spoke at a mosque in Galkayo denouncing the recent spate of assassinations of peace activists and government officials.[12]
•    Gunmen attacked two mosques in Galkayo in the central Mudug region, on Saturday and Sunday. The gunmen stormed the mosques and opened fire on worshippers, killing at least seven people and injuring over 13 others. Residents believe that al Shabaab conducted the attacks. All mosques in Galkayo have been temporarily closed as a precaution.[13]
•    AMISOM commander Major General Nathan Mugisha’s term expires at the end of the month. Ugandan army spokesman Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye confirmed that Brigadier General Fredrick Mugisha’s name has been proposed as a replacement, but approval is need from the African Union and other stakeholders.[14]
•    Portugal sent a thirteen-man squad specializing in urban warfare to Uganda to train TFG forces to fight in urban environments. A Portuguese Chief of Staff officer said that the training initiative is part of an EU security cooperation program that runs through the end of July to “aid Somalia’s transitional government.”[15]
•    Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement declaring the Prime Minister’s intention to increase aid to Eritrean rebels. The statement reads: “The Ethiopian government has now decided to carry out a more active policy, taking measured action against Eritrea’s activities, rather than continuing the passive approach it has pursued in the past in dealing with the regime in Asmara. The change will involve using all means at Ethiopia’s disposal to force the government of Eritrea to change its ways or failing this to change the government…Ethiopian actions will include a proportionate response to any and every act by the regime in Asmara. No act of aggression by the government of President Isaias will be left unanswered.”[16]
•    The TFG will now require permits for public demonstrations in Mogadishu. This follows a violent protest in Mogadishu on Friday, which killed at least three people and injured five others.[17]
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