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HRW calls for probe into US drone attack that killed Yemeni civilians

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Wednesday for the Obama Administration to probe an American drone attack on a Yemeni wedding last December, killing 12 and wounded 15 others.


After conducting an investigation, HRW suggests that this attack might have been a violation of US President Barack Obama’s policy regarding targeted killings, which he outlined in a speech last May.

The attack came when “four Hellfire missiles struck an 11-vehicle procession transporting the newlyweds to the groom’s village outside the central Yemeni city of Rad’a.”

American and Yemeni officials said that the dead were members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but witnesses and relatives of the victims asserted to HRW that all of them were civilians. The attack killed the groom’s son and the bride was among the wounded. Furthermore, the local governor and military commander in Yemen called the casualties a ‘mistake’.

The organisation cited Obama’s speech last May, when amid growing public concern over US drone strikes he addressed the American people about his administration’s conditions for carrying out targeted attacks. He asserted that, “US policy required ‘near-certainty’ that the target is present, poses a ‘continuing and imminent’ threat to the US, and could not feasibly be arrested.”

HRW believes that the attack does not meet these criteria, as well as possibly violates the laws of war by “failing to discriminate between combatants and civilians, or by causing civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage.”

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