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US Drone Attack Kills 15 En Route to Wedding

Group was reportedly mistaken for al Qaeda

Andrea Germanos

A U.S. drone strike killed 15 people on their way to a wedding on Thursday near the town of Radaa, Yemen, according to local officials.

"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," Reuters reports a security official as saying. 

The group "was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy," according to Reuters.

The Associated Press cites an unnamed official as saying that al Qaeda militants were suspected as traveling with the wedding party.

Five others were also reportedly wounded in the strike.

Thursday's strike marks the second U.S. drone attack this week on the impoverished country. Three days ago, the country's Hadramout province was the site of a strike that killed three people

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that confirmed U.S. drone strikes have killed 389 people in Yemen since 2004, including five children.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing earlier this year entitled “Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing,” Yemeni writer and youth activist Farea al-Muslimi said, "The drone strikes are the face of America to many Yemenis."

"If America is providing economic, social and humanitarian assistance to Yemen, the vast majority of the Yemeni people know nothing about it," he said. "Everyone in Yemen, however, knows about America and its drones."

In a subsequent op-ed, al-Muslimi wrote that U.S. tactics to wipe out "terrorists" are counter-productive, and that "in its recent actions, the U.S. has become al-Qa'ida's public relations officer."

On Wednesday, which was Human Rights Day, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a statement reading, in part:

[A]rmed drones are also being deployed, without due legal process, for the remote targeting of individuals. So-called “Killer robots” – autonomous weapons systems that can select and hit a target without human intervention – are no longer science fiction, but a reality.

Their likely future deployment poses deeply troubling ethical and legal questions.

Continued vigilance is needed to ensure that new technologies advance rather than destroy human rights. No matter the scale of these changes, existing international human rights law and international humanitarian law governing the conduct of armed conflict remain applicable.

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