Officials: Drone Strike Kills 15 Civilians in Yemen by Mistake

Friday, 13 Dec 2013 03:30 AM

 

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SANAA, Yemen — At least 15 people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in a drone strike after their party was mistaken for an al-Qaida convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.

The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.

"An airstrike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital," one security official said.

Five more people were injured, the officials said.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged media reports about members of a wedding party getting killed in a counterterrorism strike.

"We have no information that corroborates these reports," the official said, without elaborating.

The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network.

Yemen, AQAP's main stronghold, is among a handful of countries where the United States acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment on the practice.

Human Rights Watch said in a detailed report in August that U.S. missile strikes, including armed attacks, have killed dozens of civilians in Yemen.

Stabilizing the country, which is also struggling with southern separatists and northern rebels, is an international priority due to fears of disorder in a state that flanks top oil producer Saudi Arabia and major shipping lanes.

On Monday, missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed at least three people traveling in a car in eastern Yemen.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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