A U.S. drone strike killed three Al Qaeda militants and injured three civilians on Friday evening in the northern province of Jawf, local official and a witness told Gulf News.
The strike occurred in a remote village called Al Khasaf near the province’s capital, the local government official.
“The car was carrying Al Qaeda militants and driving in the a desert area between Mareb and Jawf. The drone launched a rocket when the car reached the village, killing three people and injuring three children,” the official said on condition of anonymity. Residents said the militants’ bodies were charred.
The father of the three children who were hurt in the strike told Gulf News that his children were outside the house when the drone fired the rocket. Arafat Qaid said that his children are suffering from shrapnel injuries in their legs and pelvis. “I swear to God that I have no connection with Al Qaeda. Why did not the drone target the car when it was in the desert?” he wondered.
The father’s children, a boy, 12 and two girls 8 and 5, are being treated in a hospital in Mareb province.
“I urge human rights organisations to protect us from drones and compensate us for human and property damages.”
According to local media reports, the U.S. drones have launched at least three deadly strikes on September in provinces across Yemen. Two of these strikes happened in the southern province of Shabwa and claimed the lives of at least ten Al Qaeda militants.
On Sunday, ministry of interior said that police managed to identify the names of some of Al Qaeda militants who were killed in these strikes. According to the ministry’s official website, Esmail Mohammad Ahmad Al Qaisi, 30, Othman Mohsin Al Daghari and Adel Hardabah were was killed in the strike on Thursday in Al Khanag district in Shabwa province. Official media usually do not give credit to the U.S. drones for such air strikes.
Human casualties of U.S. or Yemen air strikes against Al Qaeda usually trigger great violence in the targeted areas where angry relatives respond by blockading roads and hitting government facilities. One of the deadliest drone strike that missed its mark and hit civilians was in December last year. A drone fired a missile targeting a convoy of cars returning from wedding, killing at least 12 people in a remote areas in the province of Bayda.
Despite the nationwide opposition, Yemen President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has many times defended the U.S. drone missions in his country, describing them as an important tool to purge Al Qaeda’s threat in Yemen.
By Saeed Al Batati
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