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Yemen: At Least 3 Civilians Among Dozens Killed in US Drone Strikes

A Yemeni boy walks past a mural of another Yemeni boy asking the United States, "Why did you kill my family" with drones? (Ciclovia-Reconquista/Tumblr)

A Yemeni boy walks past a mural of another Yemeni boy asking the United States, “Why did you kill my family” with drones? (Ciclovia-Reconquista/Tumblr)

At least three innocent civilians were among at least 68 people killed in a series of joint US-Yemeni weekend aerial attacks targeting al-Qaeda militants in Yemen.

AFP reports Yemen’s interior ministry said at least 68 al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters were killed in an “unprecedented” joint US-Yemeni air campaign against the militant group. The attacks targeted a training camp in southern Yemen.

The Guardian reports three civilians were killed in a US drone strike against militants allegedly targeting Yemen’s military and civilian infrastructure. Saba, the Yemeni state news agency, quoted an official source in the High Security Committee who described the militants as “among the dangerous and leading elements of al-Qaida.” They were killed by a missile launched from an American drone as they traveled in a sport utility vehicle to Yemen’s central al-Bayda province. 

The three slain civilians were traveling in a vehicle near the targeted SUV. A civilian survivor told the Associated Press that the SUV carrying the militants was thrown 20 meters (66 feet) through the air by the drone strike, and that explosions continued around him for half an hour.

“We found a completely burnt car and body parts strewn around and we started picking them up,” witness Nasser Salem told Reuters. 

The Yemeni interior ministry said joint US-Yemeni air strikes on AQAP bases in the remote mountains of Abyan province killed 55 more militants on Sunday, including three local al-Qaeda chiefs. The ministry said the attacks continued for several hours, and that “terrorists of Arab and foreign nationalities are among the dead and are in the process of being identified.”

Meanwhile, unidentified but suspected AQAP gunmen on a motorcycle shot two Yemeni intelligence officers in the capital city of Sanaa on Monday. A Yemeni official told Al Jazeera the attack “bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda.” 

AQAP is considered by the United States and its Gulf allies to be the most active and dangerous branch of al-Qaeda in the world. The group has been linked to a number of failed or foiled plots against the United States, including the attempted 2009 Christmas “underwear bombing” of Northwest Airlines Flight 253, and its leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, recently appeared in a video, vowing to attack Western “crusaders” around the world. 

US drone strikes have stoked widespread anger toward the US, which is seen by many Yemenis as violating the volatile nation’s air space. Civilian casualties resulting from US drone strikes have also infuriated Yemenis. According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as many as 82 Yemeni civilians, including half a dozen children, have been killed by US drone strikes. As many as 193 people have been injured.

Last December, 15 innocent civilians on their way to what was supposed to be a joyous wedding were killed by a US drone strike targeting what US military officials believed was an al-Qaeda convoy traveling in al-Bayda province.

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12 Comments

  1. tommy northamApril 22, 2014 at 1:36 pmReply

    the photo has a small child asking “why did you kill my family”. the answer is that your family failed to run the terrorist, who have declared war on us, out of your village. war is hell. best not to harbor our enemies. we will do our duty, which is to kill those who would kill us.

    • Brett WilkinsApril 22, 2014 at 2:06 pmReplyAuthor

      So by your logic, the 9/11 perpetrators had every right to strike the Pentagon, since the US government and military had killed or supported the killing of millions of Muslims around the world during the 20th and 21st centuries? And do the “terrorists” not have a right to strike at America now, seeing as how the War on Terror has resulted in more than 120,000 innocent Muslim deaths? That’s quite a bit more than the 3,000 killed on 9/11, do they not have a right to “even the score?” Be fair, Mr. Northam, if one nation or force has the right to kill those who would kill them, then doesn’t everyone?

      Of course, I prefer to live in a society that operates under the rule of law, including international laws to which it is signatory. The US flouts international law like it doesn’t even exist.

      • tommy northamApril 24, 2014 at 2:03 pmReply

        your reply seems to ignore the fact that we are at war…the jihadists declared war against us…we have no real choice but to fight the war…victory is the only option…if you know another way to win, please let the rest of us in on it…fairness in war is a recipe for suicide…I would prefer to win than to meet someone’s idea of fairness.

        • Brett WilkinsApril 24, 2014 at 4:51 pmReplyAuthor

          I absolutely know another way to “win.” The best defense it to give no offense. Do you truly believe the US needs 1,000+ military bases in foreign countries? Do you think it’s good policy to be constantly invading and attacking other countries, and supporting some of the most brutal dictators on earth as they crush their peoples’ dreams of freedom? Our enemies do NOT “hate us for our freedom.” They hate our government for denying them the very same freedom it claims to champion. Plus, the US is responsible for more innocent deaths in more foreign nations than any other country since the end of WWII. Surely that’s going to cause some people to want to take up arms against us… wouldn’t you?

          • tommy northamApril 25, 2014 at 10:20 am

            if I read you right, you are saying we will win the war if we don’t fight it…our enemies will lay down their arms and swear off jihad…experience has shown this not to be true…their religious texts have instructed them to subdue or kill us…i’d rather go with the only real option we have…show me an instance in history where the islamists had the power to subdue non believers and did not do so.

          • Brett WilkinsApril 25, 2014 at 2:42 pmAuthor

            Do you know you’re more likely to be killed by falling furniture than by terrorism? Islamic terrorists are a minor force, and one which would not target the US if not for offensive, aggressive US policies and actions. They don’t attack Japan or Sweden or Brazil or South Africa. They attack those who meddle in their affairs, and the US is the world heavyweight champion of meddling in others’ affairs. Yes, the ultimate goal of Islam as stated in the Koran is an Islamic world, with “people of the book” (Jews, Christians) allowed to exist as 2nd-class tributaries and non-believers converted or killed. But do you see Islam as a powerful, unified force spreading by the sword? No. You did, but that was many centuries ago, when Christian crusaders also ran roughshod over “infidels.” There is zero chance of Islam spreading by the sword in the US, and if it tried, we are more than capable of defending ourselves against it. But it won’t, so such speculation is absurd.

          • tommy northamApril 25, 2014 at 5:46 pm

            your furniture idea is a flawed one…falling furniture has very limited consequences, while the islamist threat can have very large and far reaching consequences…our federal government has been tasked by our constitution with protecting us from such threats…I pray for their success…by the way, you never answered when the islamist ever had the power to push non believers around, but didn’t do it.

          • Brett WilkinsApril 25, 2014 at 11:48 pmAuthor

            Depends on what you mean by “Islamist.” Turkey has an Islamist government and religious minorities are not oppressed there.

          • tommy northamApril 26, 2014 at 7:57 am

            turkey is moving in the islamist direction, but they have historically had a secular government…with this movement you also see the calls for more sharia based law…you also see the secularists losing many of their freedoms…do you not believe them when they say they want the same worldwide?

  2. tommy northamApril 22, 2014 at 1:41 pmReply

    why does my comment require moderation? a question was asked, and answered truthfully. if the truth is unwelcome, it is because you can’t handle the truth.

    • Brett WilkinsApril 22, 2014 at 2:05 pmReplyAuthor

      WordPress, the platform upon which this site is built, requires first-time moderation for all new commenters. You will find that you do not need to wait for moderation when you post future comments. Thank you for reading and commenting, we welcome all viewpoints. There is no censorship here, except when it comes to speech that incites violence.

      • tommy northamApril 22, 2014 at 2:09 pmReply

        I’m sorry I misunderstood the need for moderation.

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