In a shocking development of events, it has been revealed that a US drone strike on a wedding convoy in Yemen killed as many as fifteen people, all allegedly civilians who were mistaken to be AlQaeda members. Yemeni news media reported yesterday night, that in an attack on a vehicular convoy travelling near Radaa in the al-Bayda province of the country was targeted by a US Drone, midway through its journey. Initial reports suggested that 10 people had been killed and some of these were alleged to be AlQaeda members.
Shuaib Al-Mosawa, a journalist who reports from Yemen, published a report on his wordpress blog, saying that a US drone had hit a location harboring 12 AlQaeda members in Iyal Ammer, a militant hotbed area bordering Marib province. He claimed to have spoken to an unnamed official, who does security for al-Bayda, and suggested that 2 members of AlQaeda had already been identified as being killed. His report stated that all twelve targeted were killed or injured, according to this security official.
However, further developments have revealed that the convoy that was targeted was indeed headed towards a wedding party, according to credible sources like the Associated Press and AlMasdar. Even universally-accepted sources like Reuters have now confirmed that the wedding convoy was mistaken for an AlQaeda procession, and hence targeted with a drone strike that killed 10 people in the convoy on the spot. Five others died while receiving treatment in the hospital.
Details of the incident are still murky, as no official statement has come forward from the US authorities; neither the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) nor the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command). Whether there was an actual AlQaeda convoy that escaped at the expense of the wedding convoy? Or was the drone attack launched with bad intelligence that suggested the wedding convoy was the al Qaeda convoy? And if the former is true, where is that AlQaeda convoy now. These are question that are yet to be answered , and will probably never be.
The Obama administration’s constant backing of the drone strikes has been seen as outrageous by many countries who form frequent targets of these strikes. NATO supply has recently been blocked by Pakistan as a form of protest against these strikes. Yemen, however, does not have any leverage to protest against the drones with. And maybe they don’t even want to. Official statements following the drone strikes have been majorly focused on convincing the masses that the victims are AlQaeda operatives, even though that is doing little to pacify the outrage against the growing number of drone strikes over the country.
Obama, who is a stout supporter of the drones, said that the program ‘is kept on a very tight leash’, and that the U.S. uses drones in a way that avoids more intrusive military actions. In an online interview, he described the attacks as carefully targeted, and claimed that the technology was ‘very precise’. Incidents such as this, however, where civilian wedding convoys are mistaken for an AlQaeda operatives fleet, hardly lend any credibility to his claims.