Yemeni Officials Say U.S. Drone Strike Mistakenly Killed 15 People On Their Way To A Wedding

The airstrike intended for an al Qaeda convoy reportedly struck the wedding convoy instead.

Men look at wall graffiti depicting a U.S. drone along a street in Sanaa, November 9, 2013. Mohamed Al-Sayaghi / Reuters

At least 15 civilians were killed, and five others injured, in an airstrike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy in Yemen, Reuters reported.

The civilians were on their way to a wedding in the village of Qaifa when the car they were traveling in was reportedly struck down by a drone, leaving charred bodies on the road and vehicles on fire.

The plane was not identified by local security officials, but local media witnesses say the attack was carried out by a U.S. drone.

A local official told Reuters: “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.” Five others were also injured.

An earlier Associated Press report quoted an official as saying that al-Qaida militants were suspected to have been traveling with the wedding convoy.

The U.S. regards the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda to be the most active wing of the militant network. Drone strikes targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have been stepped up. On Monday, a U.S. drone reportedly killed three people traveling in a car in eastern Yemen.

Thursday’s drone attack on the wedding party occurred amidst outrage over recently aired footage of a deadly attack by al Qaeda on a Ministry of Defense hospital in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.

In August 2012, a U.S. drone launched four missiles on a village in Yemen, killing Yemeni engineer Faisal bin Ali Jaber’s relatives during his son’s wedding celebrations. “There are no words to explain how horrific it is to see body parts blown to pieces,” said Jaber at a Nov. 19 Congressional briefing.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a not-for-profit organization, estimates that there have been 55-65 confirmed drone strikes in Yemen, killing between 21 to 56 civilians, including five children.

People expressed their shock and outrage on Twitter against this latest drone attack.

ten killed in wedding procession by suspected UD drone strike #Yemen http://t.co/7B1IBWoa49 sometimes "wedding" actually means wedding

— JNovak_Yemen (@Jane Novak)

If US "mistakenly" attacked wedding convoy with drone, when intended to hit nearby al Qaeda convoy, where is AQ convoy now? #Yemen

— kgosztola (@Kevin Gosztola)

Imagine US drone strike killing 15 at a wedding "by mistake" took place at a British country club, not #Yemen. Then imagine media reaction.

— ChrChristensen (@ChristianChristensen)

US drone strike kills 10 during a wedding in my hometown in Yemen today. Turning loving relatives into life-long terrorists.

— omarmash_ (@Omar)

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact this reporter at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com
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