[Relatives of innocent Yemenis killed in US drone attacks hold up photos of their loved ones. (Photos: Human Rights Watch)]
By Elham Asaad Buaras
Seventeen wedding guests were killed in US drone air strike in Yemen on December 12.
The officials said that 22 others (from al-Tays and al-Ameri families) were injured, nine in critical condition. The vehicles were traveling near the town of Radda in al-Bayda province, when they were attacked.
Four of the 11 vehicles were targeted in the strikes and two were completely damaged. Among the dead were two prominent tribal leaders.
Two of the dead were suspected militants, but the rest were all civilians with no connection to al-Qa’ida
“More than 50 innocent civilians in our town have been killed by drones,” said Abdullah al-Kabra, an eyewitness to the drone strike.
“All those who were killed were supportive of the government’s anti-terror campaign. That will surely not be the case of their tribes and families if the government does not strongly intervene,” he added.
Yemeni security experts have argued that drones have on numerous occasions have directly played into al-Qa’ida’s favour, turning peaceful tribal communities into vengeful killers.
“The attack proved the need for tighter control and regulations as far as drones are concerned. At times, they have proved deadly and destructive to civilians,” said Abdul Salam Mohammed, the President of the Sanaa-based Abaad Studies & Research Centre.
In its October report Human Rights Watch said it “investigated the six strikes during two trips to Yemen in 2012 and 2013. These attacks, one from 2009 and the rest from 2012-13, killed 82 people, at least 57 of them civilians. At least four of the strikes were carried out by drones, a fifth strike by either drones or warplanes, and a sixth one by cruise missiles releasing cluster munitions, indiscriminate weapons that pose unacceptable dangers to civilians.”