New York, NY, United States (4E) – The Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for a government investigation of a U.S. drone strike that killed civilians in Yemen in December and punishment of those who violated the “no civilians harmed” policy for such attack.
The HRW made the call Thursday when it released a report of its findings on the attack that targeted a convoy taking part in a wedding procession near the city of Rad’a on Dec. 12. The drone fired Hellfire missiles to the line of 11 cars killing 12 men and wounding 15 others.
The U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command launched the attack to kill al-Qaeda militant Shawqi Ali Ahmed al-Badani. But the HRW said the target was not in the list of names of the casualties.
The group, however, acknowledged in the report that members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terrorist network’s affiliate in Yemen, may have been among the dead. Anonymous U.S. and Yemeni officials also said three or four men were seen fleeing a truck in the convoy before the attack and two of them were Yemen’s “most-wanted terrorists.
The 28-page report titled “A Wedding That Became a Funeral: US Drone Attack on Marriage Procession in Yemen” claimed that the drone strike violated President Barack Obama’s policy statement in May requiring “near-certainty” that no civilians will be harmed in drone attacks.
Witnesses and relatives of the victims, who provided testimonies to HRW investigators, claimed there was no AQAP member in the convoy. The report also stated that the local governor and military commander called the casualties a “mistake” and gave money and assault rifles to the families of those killed and wounded – a traditional gesture of apology in Yemen.