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In US Drone Attack, Wedding Party Is Mistaken for an al Qaeda Convoy; At Least 15 Killed

UPDATE – 2:20 PM EST: It is now being reported by Reuters that a wedding convoy was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy in a drone attack that killed fifteen people.

Ten were killed in the initial attack, according to Yemen security officials. Five injured died at a hospital. Five more were injured. No details on what happened to the al Qaeda convoy that was supposed to be attacked but escaped a drone, which President Barack Obama has touted as being “very precise.”

If the CIA or Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) intended to hit an al Qaeda convoy but hit a wedding convoy instead—by mistake, where is the al Qaeda convoy now? Or, was a drone attack launched with bad intelligence that suggested the wedding convoy was the al Qaeda convoy?

Original Post

Yemeni news media report ten people were killed and more than twelve people in a wedding party were wounded in a drone attack by the United States.

The attack occurred near Radaa in the al-Bayda province of Yemen. It struck a car in a wedding convoy. Some of the killed were alleged to be members of al Qaeda.

Al-Masdar reported that two tribal sheikhs had been injured. [UPDATE – 2 PM EST – Associated Press reported Yemen officials said US drone hit convoy headed to wedding party, killed 13 people.]

However, Shuaib M. Almosawa, a Yemeni journalist, published a report that suggested a US drone had hit a location “harboring” twelve al Qaeda members in Iyal Ammer, “a militant hotbed area bordering Marib province. He spoke to an unnamed official, who does security for al-Bayda, and claimed two members of al Qaeda had already been identified as being killed: Nayef Ali Al-Ahraq, 37, and Muhammed Ali Al-Amiri, 30. All twelve targeted were killed or injured, according to this security official.

Statements of anonymous government officials are probably as valid as similar statements from anonymous government officials in the United States—so that should be kept in mind as the truth of what really happened is further reported.

One Yemeni lawyer, Haykal Bafana, made this point in reaction:

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Also, Cori Crider of the human rights organization, Reprieve, Sarah Knuckey of Just Security, who has done extensive work tracking drone strikes, and Jack Serle of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has kept track of the number of people killed by drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, all reacted:

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."