Category: Unmanned Drones


President calls Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti ‘critical’

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

In a deal penned Monday, President Obama cemented the U.S. military’s foothold in the drone war by signing a new long-term lease for Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. (Photo: U.S. Dept. of Defense/ Creative Commons /Flickr))

The United States has agreed to sign a long-term lease agreement with the government of Djibouti, President Obama announced Monday, cementing the U.S. military’s presence at Camp Lemonnier, home to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and key foothold for the killer drone program.

In a statement announcing the agreement with Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, Obama hailed Camp Lemonnier’s “critical role as an operational headquarters for regional security,” emphasizing “the importance the base plays in protecting Americans and Djiboutians alike from violent extremist individuals and organizations.”

The only “official” U.S. base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier is known as the “busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone,” according to The Washington Post, and is central to drone operations in Somalia and Yemen. The base primarily serves the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and currently houses more than 2,000 U.S. personnel.

Human rights groups have accused Djibouti of being a “knowing participant” in the CIA’s rendition program and of housing CIA “black sites,” where prisoners of the U.S. military have been held and tortured.

According to an administration official, the $63 million per year lease permits to U.S. to keep personnel and equipment at the camp for an additional 10 years with options to renew, the Associated Press reports.

According to recent reporting by Nick Turse, investigative journalist with TomDispatch, the U.S. military has been working towards establishing a “permanent footprint” in Djibouti, awarding over $320 million in construction projects in 2013, including a $220 million Special Operations compound at the base.

During the meeting, Guelleh thanked Obama for U.S.’s development assistance to the poverty-stricken nation and said the base agreement would “reinforce our partnership and our relationship.”

Though largely undisclosed, the U.S. military’s presence in Africa extends far beyond the “official” base Lemonnier. As TomDispatch investigations have revealed, U.S. forces “average far more than a mission a day on the continent, conducting operations with almost every African military force, in almost every African country, while building or building up camps, compounds, and ‘contingency security locations.’”

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Army rejects clemency for Chelsea Manning

Published time: April 14, 2014 17:14
Edited time: April 14, 2014 17:48

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning will not receive clemency from the United States military, the US Army said on Monday afternoon.

A news release circulated by the US Army Military District of Washington early Monday confirmed that the Pentagon official who could have agreed to reduce or eliminate the sentence imposed last year on the former intelligence analyst declined to do so. The case will next automatically be sent to the Army Court of Criminals Appeals.

According to the press release, the convening authority, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, approved the findings and sentence adjudged at last summer’s court-martial, in turn rejecting requests for Manning to receive clemency.

As convening authority, Buchanan could have elected to disapprove of Army Col. Denise Lind’s decision last summer to sentence Manning to 35 years in prison after the analyst admitted to sharing a trove of classified military documents with the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Lind sentenced the solder to 35 years in prison and demoted her to private first class after finding the soldier guilty of multiple counts, including espionage, theft and computer fraud.

 

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Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence upheld by US army general

Chelsea Manning
Manning pleaded guilty to 10 charges but was convicted last year on 20 counts, including espionage and theft. Photo: Ho/AFP/Getty Images

A US army general has denied clemency for Chelsea Manning and upheld the former soldier’s 35-year prison sentence for providing secret files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified materials in US history, the army said Monday.

Major General Jeffrey S Buchanan’s decision to uphold the findings of Manning’s 2013 court-martial will automatically send the case to the army court of criminal appeals, an Army statement said.

The soldier, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2010 when she gave the pro-transparency site WikiLeaks 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts.

The trove included a 2007 video of a US Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Iraq, killing a dozen people, including two Reuters news staffers.

 

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‘Not bug splats’: Artists use poster-child in Pakistan drone protest

Published time: April 07, 2014 13:29

Image from notabugsplat.com

Image from notabugsplat.com

A poster of a young child has appeared in north-west Pakistan to raise awareness of the numerous drone attacks the region suffered. Artists who created the image hope military commanders will think twice about shooting after seeing the portrait.

More than 200 children are believed to have died in the heavily-bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa according to the website notabugsplat.com. ‘Bug splat’ is the name given by the military to a person who has been killed by a drone. Viewing the body through a grainy computer image gives the impression that an insect has been crushed.

Now a giant portrait of a young child has been produced to try and raise awareness of civilian casualties in the region. The hope is now the drone operator will see a child’s face on his or her computer screen, rather than just a small white dot and may think twice before attacking indiscriminately.

The child featured in the poster is nameless, but according to the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, who helped to launch the project in collaboration with a number of artists, both parents were lost to a drone attack.

Drone raids in Pakistan started in 2004 under George W. Bush’s administration as part of the US War on Terror. The vast majority of strikes have focused on the Federally Administered Tribal Area’s and the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa area due to their proximity to Afghanistan, which the country invaded following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

 

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The//Intercept

By and 10 Feb 2014, 12:03 AM EST
Featured photo - The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press.

The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is also supported by a former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the lethal operations in which he was directly involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

In one tactic, the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.

The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.

One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.

Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”

As a result, even when the agency correctly identifies and targets a SIM card belonging to a terror suspect, the phone may actually be carried by someone else, who is then killed in a strike. According to the former drone operator, the geolocation cells at the NSA that run the tracking program – known as Geo Cell –sometimes facilitate strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

“Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” he says. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”

The former drone operator also says that he personally participated in drone strikes where the identity of the target was known, but other unknown people nearby were also killed.

“They might have been terrorists,” he says. “Or they could have been family members who have nothing to do with the target’s activities.”

What’s more, he adds, the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.

“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” he says. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”

The Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that its operations kill terrorists with the utmost precision.

In his speech at the National Defense University last May, President Obama declared that “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.” He added that, “by narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life.”

But the increased reliance on phone tracking and other fallible surveillance tactics suggests that the opposite is true. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which uses a conservative methodology to track drone strikes, estimates that at least 273 civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have been killed by unmanned aerial assaults under the Obama administration. A recent study conducted by a U.S. military adviser found that, during a single year in Afghanistan – where the majority of drone strikes have taken place – unmanned vehicles were 10 times more likely than conventional aircraft to cause civilian casualties.

The NSA declined to respond to questions for this article. Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, also refused to discuss “the type of operational detail that, in our view, should not be published.”

In describing the administration’s policy on targeted killings, Hayden would not say whether strikes are ever ordered without the use of human intelligence. She emphasized that “our assessments are not based on a single piece of information. We gather and scrutinize information from a variety of sources and methods before we draw conclusions.”

Hayden felt free, however, to note the role that human intelligence plays after a deadly strike occurs. “After any use of targeted lethal force, when there are indications that civilian deaths may have occurred, intelligence analysts draw on a large body of information – including human intelligence, signals intelligence, media reports, and surveillance footage – to help us make informed determinations about whether civilians were in fact killed or injured.”

The government does not appear to apply the same standard of care in selecting whom to target for assassination. The former JSOC drone operator estimates that the overwhelming majority of high-value target operations he worked on in Afghanistan relied on signals intelligence, known as SIGINT, based on the NSA’s phone-tracking technology.

“Everything they turned into a kinetic strike or a night raid was almost 90 percent that,” he says. “You could tell, because you’d go back to the mission reports and it will say ‘this mission was triggered by SIGINT,’ which means it was triggered by a geolocation cell.”

In July, the Washington Post relied exclusively on former senior U.S. intelligence officials and anonymous sources to herald the NSA’s claims about its effectiveness at geolocating terror suspects.

Within the NSA, the paper reported, “A motto quickly caught on at Geo Cell: ‘We Track ’Em, You Whack ’Em.’”

But the Post article included virtually no skepticism about the NSA’s claims, and no discussion at all about how the unreliability of the agency’s targeting methods results in the killing of innocents.

In fact, as the former JSOC drone operator recounts, tracking people by metadata and then killing them by SIM card is inherently flawed. The NSA “will develop a pattern,” he says, “where they understand that this is what this person’s voice sounds like, this is who his friends are, this is who his commander is, this is who his subordinates are. And they put them into a matrix. But it’s not always correct. There’s a lot of human error in that.”

The JSOC operator’s account is supported by another insider who was directly involved in the drone program. Brandon Bryant spent six years as a “stick monkey” – a drone sensor operator who controls the “eyes” of the U.S. military’s unmanned aerial vehicles. By the time he left the Air Force in 2011, Bryant’s squadron, which included a small crew of veteran drone operators, had been credited with killing 1,626 “enemies” in action.

Bryant says he has come forward because he is tormented by the loss of civilian life he believes that he and his squadron may have caused. Today he is committed to informing the public about lethal flaws in the U.S. drone program.

Bryant describes the program as highly compartmentalized: Drone operators taking shots at targets on the ground have little idea where the intelligence is coming from.

“I don’t know who we worked with,” Bryant says. “We were never privy to that sort of information. If the NSA did work with us, like, I have no clue.”

During the course of his career, Bryant says, many targets of U.S. drone strikes evolved their tactics, particularly in the handling of cell phones. “They’ve gotten really smart now and they don’t make the same mistakes as they used to,” he says. “They’d get rid of the SIM card and they’d get a new phone, or they’d put the SIM card in the new phone.”

As the former JSOC drone operator describes – and as classified documents obtained from Snowden confirm – the NSA doesn’t just locate the cell phones of terror suspects by intercepting communications from cell phone towers and Internet service providers. The agency also equips drones and other aircraft with devices known as “virtual base-tower transceivers” – creating, in effect, a fake cell phone tower that can force a targeted person’s device to lock onto the NSA’s receiver without their knowledge.

That, in turn, allows the military to track the cell phone to within 30 feet of its actual location, feeding the real-time data to teams of drone operators who conduct missile strikes or facilitate night raids.

The NSA geolocation system used by JSOC is known by the code name GILGAMESH. Under the program, a specially constructed device is attached to the drone. As the drone circles, the device locates the SIM card or handset that the military believes is used by the target.

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MOXNEWSd0tC0M MOXNEWSd0tC0M

 

Published on Feb 11, 2014

February 11, 2014 BBC News http://MOXNews.com

 

 

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Another U.S. citizen a potential drone target

By Tom Cohen and Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 6:21 PM EST, Tue February 11, 2014

(CNN) — U.S. counterterrorism officials are closely watching an al Qaeda fighter in Pakistan who could become the next American to be targeted for killing by a drone strike, CNN has learned.

The person has been the subject of debate among military commanders and intelligence officials for several weeks as they decide what to recommend. President Barack Obama would make a final decision.

CNN has also learned key members of Congress have been aware of the internal debate.

The officials spoke to CNN’s Barbara Starr on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

U.S. citizen may be target of drone

The current discussions involve both military commanders in the special forces community and intelligence officials.

A key point being discussed is whether it is better to maintain surveillance to see what added intelligence can be gained about any threats to the United States, and whether additional monitoring might lead to other operatives or al Qaeda elements to target.

Under the Obama administration’s policy for targeting Americans, a person would have to pose an imminent threat to the United States and there would be no reasonable prospect of capture.

A U.S. official said drone targeting inside Pakistan is very sensitive because of the fragile state of the Pakistani government, which is under pressure to ban such strikes.

As a potential strike is weighed, some officials contend that good relations with the Islamabad government is a priority so the United States can maintain some type of long-term surveillance operation of potential al Qaeda targets there.

If all U.S. troops leave neighboring Afghanistan at the end of 2014, the concern is it may be harder to maintain high priority efforts such as conducting further drone operations over Pakistan and to also monitor Pakistan’s nuclear programs.

As the United States considers a strike in Pakistan, there are also recent indications that al Qaeda in Pakistan and its affiliate in Somalia, Al-Shabaab, have stepped up their links, a second official told CNN.

Jehad Serwan Mostafa, an American citizen, is currently with Al-Shabaab. He is the highest-ranking American in the group, believed to be in a remote part of southern Somalia.

The Justice Department currently has a $5 million reward on his head.

CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruikshank said there are indications Mostafa has contacts with senior al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.

The United States failed to kill Al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in a drone strike in southern Somalia just a few weeks ago.

And last October, Navy SEALs failed to capture a third key leader, a man named Ikrimah. They assaulted a compound he was said to be at in southern Somalia but withdrew under heavy fire.

Although Ikrimah and Godane were said to be involved in the deadly attack last year on a shopping mall in Kenya, U.S. officials have told CNN that one reason Ikrimah was targeted was there was critical intelligence he had been communicating with operatives of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

That Yemen based al Qaeda group is considered the most dangerous of its affiliates to U.S. security.

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Afgoye and Mogadishu, SomaliaAfgoye and Mogadishu, Somalia

Somali Militant Killed in Drone Attack     :    VOA

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U.S. missile strike targets suspected militant leader in Somalia

The U.S. military carried out a missile strike in Somalia on Sunday, targeting a suspected militant leader with links to the al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab terror groups, U.S. military officials told NBC News.

U.S. military and intelligence officials are reviewing bomb damage assessment to determine if the terror leader was killed or wounded in the strike.

The officials would not yet identify the target of the strike.

The al-Shabaab group — which the State Department designates as a terrorist organization — is a loosely affiliated band of militia insurgents in southern Somalia that has close ties to the al-Qaeda terror network.

At least two senior al-Shabaab rebels, including the group’s leading explosives expert, were killed in a military strike last October.

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Somali Militant Killed in Missile Attack

A member of Somali rebel group al-Shabab was killed Sunday by a missile fired by a suspected drone, a rebel commander said, blaming the U.S. for the strike.

Abu Mohamed told The Associated Press that Sahal Iskudhuq, a militant commander who was believed to be close to al-Shabab’s top leader, was killed when his car was hit by a missile in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region. The attack took place in a village called Hawai, he said.

A Somali intelligence official confirmed the attack, describing the victim as a “dangerous” militant. His driver was also killed in the attack, the official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to reveal the information.

Mohamed blamed the attack on the U.S., which flies drones over Somalia that occasionally fire at one of al-Shabab’s top leaders.

Two U.S. military officials confirm that there was a missile strike against a senior al-Shabab leader in Somalia today. The officials wouldn’t identify the target of the strike, and one of the officials said U.S. intelligence is still “assessing the effectiveness of the strike.”

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US airstrike killed 13 Afghan civilians in Parwan: Official

Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:50PM GMT
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A member of a fact-finding mission said on Friday that 13 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed in the US airstrike in Parwan Province on Wednesday. Initial reports had put the death toll at 8.

In a press conference in Kabul, the Afghan official said most of the victims were women and children.

The fact-finding mission began work after President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation into the deadly attack.

A large number of civilians have been killed or injured at the hands of US-led foreign forces — most of them in nighttime raids and airstrikes. The casualty rate has risen over the past few months, even though the Afghan government had asked foreign forces to make every effort to avoid killing civilians.

An escalation in the US-led strikes on Afghanistan’s civilian areas has angered both the public and the government.

Afghans have held numerous protest rallies countrywide to condemn such attacks.

Afghan government officials — including President Karzai himself — have also frequently condemned the killings of civilians by foreign forces.

The latest development comes as the US and Afghanistan are still at loggerheads over a bilateral security deal. Washington has been mounting pressure on Kabul to sign the deal that would allow several thousands of US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Afghan political figures have heaped scorn on the US-led forces for committing unforgivable crimes against Afghan women and children since invading the country in 2001.

JR/AB/SS

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UN Officials: We Demand Answers for US Wedding Massacres in Yemen

Special Rapporteur Juan Méndez: ‘A deadly attack on illegitimate targets amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Children gather near car destroyed in 2012 by a U.S. drone air strike in Azan, in the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa. (Photo: Reuters / Khaled Abdullah / Files)A suspected U.S. drone strike that killed 16 civilians attending a wedding in Yemen violates humanitarian law and must be accounted for, declared UN experts on Thursday.

“A deadly attack on illegitimate targets amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if, as in this case, it results in serious physical or mental pain and suffering for the innocent victims,” said Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez, according to a UN statement.

“If armed drones are to be used, States must adhere to international humanitarian law, and should disclose the legal basis for their operational responsibility and criteria for targeting,” said Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. “Yemen cannot consent to violations of the right to life of people in its territory.”

Local security officials report that 16 civilians were killed and over 10 injured when drone missiles struck two wedding processions on December 12.

Despite this mass civilian death, confirmed in numerous media reports, the U.S. government has so far refused to disclose information on the legality, targets, and victims of these strikes.

The Obama administration has been famously secretive about the covert drone wars of the United States while claiming that their civilian death count is low, despite reports from Bureau of Investigative Journalism researchers who have documented high numbers of civilian deaths in Pakistan and Yemen. 

As Tom Engelhardt recently pointed out, while much media reported that the wedding was an “unlikely target” that was struck mistakenly, there is in fact nothing unlikely or unique about this wedding tragedy.

According to “the count of TomDispatch, this is at least the eighth wedding party reported wiped out, totally or in part, since the Afghan War began and it extends the extermination of wedding celebrants from the air to a third country  six destroyed in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, and now the first in Yemen,” writes Engelhardt. “And in all those years, reporters covering these “incidents” never seem to notice that similar events had occurred previously.”

He adds, “The only thing that made the Yemeni incident unique was the drone. The previous strikes were reportedly by piloted aircraft.”

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File:MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft.jpg

A Predator drone in US Air Force base in 2011′s summer.

Author US Air Force    http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/081131-F-7734Q-001.jpg

Image Source Wikimedia. Org

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U.S. Drone Strike Hits Convoy Headed To Wedding Party In Yemen, Killing At Least 13, Officials Say

Posted: 12/12/2013 1:47 pm EST  |  Updated: 12/13/2013 5:33 pm EST

The Associated Press reports Yemeni officials have said a U.S. drone strike hit a convoy headed to a wedding party:

According to the report, at least 13 people were killed in the targeted strike.

Reuters quotes Yemeni security officials as saying the wedding party was targeted after it “was mistaken for an al-Qaeda convoy.” Additionally, the news outlet cites 15 deaths, with another five people injured in the attack.

“An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital,” one security official said.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is believed to be among the most active wings of the terrorist organization. In response to the militant group’s increased activity, the U.S. has ramped up its use of drone strikes in Yemen since 2011.

More from the Associated Press:

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Missiles fired by a U.S. drone slammed into a convoy of vehicles traveling to a wedding party in central Yemen on Thursday, killing at least 13 people, Yemeni security officials said.

The officials said the attack took place in the city of Radda, the capital of Bayda province, and left charred bodies and burnt out cars on the road. The city, a stronghold of al-Qaida militants, witnessed deadly clashes early last year between armed tribesmen backed by the military and al-Qaida gunmen in an attempt to drive them out of the city.

There were no immediate details on who was killed in the strike, and there were conflicting reports about whether there were militants traveling with the wedding convoy.

A military official said initial information indicated the drone mistook the wedding party for an al-Qaida convoy. He said tribesmen known to the villagers were among the dead.

One of the three security officials, however, said al-Qaida militants were suspected to have been traveling with the wedding convoy.

While the U.S. acknowledges its drone program in Yemen, it does not usually talk about individual strikes.

If further investigations determine that the victims were all civilians, the attack could fuel an outburst of anger against the United States and the government in Sanaa among a Yemeni public already opposed to the U.S. drone strikes.

 

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Air strike kills 15 civilians in Yemen by mistake: officials

 

SANAA Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:34pm EST

 

 

 

(Reuters) – Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.

The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.

“An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital,” one security official said.

Five more people were injured, the officials said.

The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network.

 

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National flag of Yemen

Officials report 15 wedding guests in the Yemen province of al-Bayda were hit by an air strike, believed to be a US drone. Photograph: Malcolm Harris / Alamy/Alamy

Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al-Qaida convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.

The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.

“An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, 10 people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital,” one security official said.

Five more people were injured, the officials said.

The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network.

Yemen, AQAP’s main stronghold, is among a handful of countries where the United States acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment on the practice.

Human Rights Watch said in a detailed report in August that US missile strikes, including armed drone attacks, have killed dozens of civilians in Yemen.

 

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RT

 

Published on Nov 25, 2013

Is there a difference between George W. Bush and Barack Obama? If there is no difference, why is this the case? What is it about American politics that changes politicians once they are in high office? And, in light of the Obama presidency, will history now look more kindly upon Bush Jr.? CrossTalking with Daniel Faraci, Austin Petersen and Kimberly Amadeo.

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