Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEM089-B

Incident date

May 19, 2012

Location

ٱلْبَيْضَاء‎, Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.27576, 45.357215 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A second alleged US drone strike on May 19th 2012 around noon destroyed a vehicle in the southern province of Bayda, killing two militants, international and local media reported. There are currently no known reports of civilian harm.

The attack killed the two occupants according to provincial governor Mohammed al Ameri who told the defense ministry website. The dead were alleged Al Qaeda operatives from Somalia and Yemen.

A tweet from @SUHFNET_YE specified that the air strikes occurred in the Al-Hana area in the Massoura district. @Albaidanew and other local sources described the car as being a Cressida car and the location of the vehicle as being “on a walled road in Bayda.”

Sources told AFP and Associated Press the strike was carried out by a US drone. The Yemen Air Force was reportedly not capable of carrying out such a precise strike, such as targeting a moving vehicle.

The incident occured around midday.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that a vehicle was targeted in the southern governorate of Bayda (ٱلْبَيْضَاء‎). Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the governorate Bayda (ٱلْبَيْضَاء‎) are: 14.27576, 45.357215.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM088-B

Incident date

May 19, 2012

Location

جعار, Rabwa, western entrance to Ja’ar, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.222961, 45.302286 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between three and five militants were killed as suspected Yemeni Air Force/US warplanes struck Jaar, Abyan on May 19, 2012, international and local media reported. There are currently no known reports of civilian harm.

As fighting between government and insurgent forces continued in the south of Yemen, sources reported that “dozens” of Al Qaeda militants were killed within days from heavy ground battle around Jaar, as government forces, supported by US military, were advancing to retake the city from the militants. These deaths are not included here, as they took place over several days and in several locations.

Meanwhile, according to multiple sources, warplanes supported the battle on Saturday, May 19th, carrying out several strikes in the vicinity of Jaar. A local official told Reuters three alleged militants were killed, while Yemen Post reported five militants were killed.

Military officials told Associated Press that Yemeni warplanes had “pounded targets some 5 km (3 miles) outside Jaar” without giving any casualty figures. Local residents told AFP that Yemen Air Force jets launched four strikes on Jaar’s western entrance and the Yemen Post reported five militants were killed in “several airstrikes” carried out by Yemen Air Force jets.

The majority of sources attributed the airstrikes to the Yemeni government while a tweet from @crazyyafai identified US drones, the Yemen air force, and missiles from US ships as all being involved in the “attack on #AQAP in #Abyan.”

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that airstrikes targeted Al Rabwa near the western entrance of the town of Ja’ar (جعار). We were unable to verify the location of Al Rabwa, however, the coordinates for the western entrance to the town are: 13.222961, 45.302286.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Yemeni Air Force Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Yemeni Air Force
  • Yemeni Air Force position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM087-B

Incident date

May 18, 2012

Location

شقرة, Shaqra, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.356639, 45.699426 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Three Al Qaeda members were killed and six others were wounded by alleged US or Yemeni airstrikes on the town of Shaqra on May 17, 2012. There were no reports of civilian harm.

Yemen News Network tweeted from @YemenNews that warplanes struck two tanks captured by Al Qaeda in Arquob, west of Shaqra. The warplanes were believed to be Yemeni. @YenNews1 reported that warplanes bombed an Al Qaeda checkpoint in Shaqra, and this story was supported by @ahrar_tagheer who noted both dead and wounded at a checkpoint strike and @TaizCity which noted the same. The latter again mentioned warplanes but did not attribute these planes to either Yemen or the United States.

Evan Kohlmann offered a more specific report at @IntelTweet, noting that Abdel Elah bin Mustafa al-Shehri, a twenty-year old Saudi national, had been killed by a U.S. drone strike. No other report corroborated this, and this tweet may have been referring to an earlier strike.

Associated Press reported a single ‘Yemeni warplane’ struck a checkpoint in Shaqra in Abyan province. Three alleged militants were killed and six wounded, the agency said.

Given that CNN had reported US strikes on the same town the previous day, this may also have been a US action.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    6

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Shaqra (شقرة) in the Abyan (أبين‎) governorate. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the town of Shaqra (شقرة) are: 13.356639, 45.699426.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Yemeni Air Force Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Yemeni Air Force
  • Yemeni Air Force position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    6

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM085-C

Incident date

May 16–17, 2012

Location

سيئون, شبام, Between Sayoun and Shibam, Hadhramout, Yemen

Geolocation

15.936155, 48.718976 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

At 12:45am on May 17th 2012, an alleged unmanned US drone struck a convoy of two cars along the highway from Sayoun to Shibam alongside a lake opposite the radio station of the Thabit / Shibam area, killing two to three alleged Al Qaeda militants and killing one civilian, Moteei Mohsin Bel-Ala. Locals had sighted the drones for at least a day prior to the strike. Local officials have confirmed the strike.

A local security official told Xinhua News that a US drone fired two missiles on a moving pick-up truck as it passed through the Shibam area, killing two alleged militants. The Defence Ministry said two of the dead were local AQAP leaders, naming them as Zeid bin Taleb and Mutii Bilalafi. They were both on the Yemeni government’s most wanted list for terrorist attacks in the country, the official told Xinhua. Twitter accounts confirmed these names.

However, according to a report by the Open Society Justice Initiative and Mwatana, a 33-year-old civilian male, Moteei Mohsin Bel-Ala, a car dealer from the village of Wadi Hashoosh in Shepam District, who happened to be close to the car that was targeted, was killed in the attack. Yemeni government documents confirm that Moteei was a civilian: A letter dated November 25, 2013 from the head of the local council of Shepam District to the undersecretary of Hadramout Governorate states that Moteei was killed by a drone while he was coming from a place called Bohaira, and that he was accidentally killed with one of the suspects and another letter dated July 28, 2014 from the governor of Hadramout Governorate to the leader of the first military region states that Moteei Mohsin Bel-Ala was a civilian who was killed by mistake. Moteei’s uncle, Hakim Saleh Salem bin Shaaban, said that “when we got there, the car was ablaze and body parts were scattered around all over the place. I found his amputated head 20 meters away from the car: the features of Moteei’s head were not affected very much and so we were able to recognize it. The other person who is said to be Al Qaeda member was Obaid Saleh bin Talib. We were shocked and unable to believe what we were looking at. Some of the people who had gathered around the car informed us that they had seen a drone fire three missiles at the car. Actually, there were three close pits in that place.”

Moteei had a wife and two children and was the family breadwinner, he also supported his extended family of which he was the eldest son. It is unclear whether Moteei Mohsin Bel-Ala is the same person referred to above as Mutii Bilalafi, who is identified as being a militant, due to the lack of Arabic translations used in the sources (only English provided) but Moteei’s uncle, Hakim Saleh Salem bin Shaaban specified that the Toyota Hilux was owned by a man called Bin Talib (Zeid bin Taleb above), who was rumored to be an Al Qaeda member and that Hakim Saleh did not know whether Moteei was inside the car or next to it. This report along with tweets reported that the car hit by the airstrike was a Toyota Hilux. Moteei’s 27-year-old wife was told that morning by her uncle that her husband had died in an attack by an American aircraft. She did not see Moteei after his death— neither she, nor his mother were allowed to see the body. She added, “My son creates a lot of heartache for me. He keeps asking, “Where is my father?”

Reuters said a car reportedly carrying explosives was destroyed when an overnight strike targeted the convoy. Hadramout Today reported that “the plane fired about three shots, two of them were seen, when it made two pits on the ground and the third hit the car directly behind the driver.” Local residents said the three killed in the strike were all members of a militant cell. Associated Press added that two men in another car in the convoy were wounded in the strike, although it is unclear whether these were civilians. The Yemen Times referred to the second car as being damaged and “the survived four Jihadists were taken to the north of Shibam Hadramout district by their comrades in Hailox truck twenty five minutes after the attack, according to eye witnesses.”  A security source told the Yemen Times that the convoy consisted of two cars, the second of which was damaged in the attack. The source told the paper that one of the dead was a ‘prominent leader of Al Qaeda’ called Mohammed al Raimi. Al Raimi (aka al Raymi) survived a strike in April 2012 and was named as third-in-command at AQAP.

The strike appears to be the first to have been reported in real time on Twitter. A Yemeni lawyer and activist (@BaFana3) reported drone sightings on the social media network before the attack and said two vehicles were destroyed. Bafana later explained to the Bureau that his relatives live in Shibam, a town of 30,000. ‘When the drone struck, the town – which was then experiencing a power cut – had completely lit up. My relatives got straight on the phone to tell me about the attack.’ The Bureau added that others were also tweeting about the convoy, “Arabic-language online media in the provincial capital of al-Mukalla had reported that a convoy of alleged al Qaeda rebels was heading north. That news was also swiftly tweeted.” This incident occurred in “Hadhramaut province, a sparsely-populated former sultanate, is far from Yemen’s troubled south, where most of the fighting and US drone strikes are currently taking place.” According to Bafana (@BaFana3), “there had never been a drone strike. But suddenly four or five days ago, my relatives were reporting drones over them in daylight, all the time, which was rare. Militants were also being seen moving about in the area, maybe preparing the way for an evacuation from the fighting in the south. Everyone was expecting something to happen”.

The majority of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the strikes to a drone or missile attack, with many of the sources specifying that the US was responsible. The Long War Journal specified that the strikes were carried out by the “CIA and the US military’s Joint Special Operations Command” and the Bureau pointed out that “Yemen’s own air force has neither the know-how nor the equipment to launch a precision strike on moving vehicles in the dark.”

The incident occured at 00:45:00 local time.

The victims were named as:

Moteei Mohsin Bel-Ala
33 years old male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (44) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes in Hadramawt on May 17, 2012. (Image posted by Hadramout Today)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes in Hadramawt on May 17, 2012. (Image posted by Hadramout Today)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes in Hadramawt on May 17, 2012. (Image posted by Mwatana)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the airstrike targeted a convoy travelling on the main road between the towns Shibam (شبام) and Sayoun (سيئون) in the Hadramout (حضرموت‎) governorate. One source also reports the town Buhaira (البحيرة), which is just north of the two main roads between the towns, and mentions a radio station in the area. We were unable to locate this radio station. The coordinates for the area between Shibam (شبام), Sayoun (سيئون) and Buhaira (البحيرة) are: 15.936155, 48.718976.

  • Shibam (شبام), Sayoun (سيئون) and Buhaira (البحيرة), and the two main roads marked in red

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (44) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM086-C

Incident date

May 17, 2012

Location

شقرة, Shaqra, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.356639, 45.699426 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

On May 17th 2012, at an Al Qaeda checkpoint in the town of Shaqra in the Abyan Province, a suspected US drone-fired missile or Yemeni air strike hit two cars killing between three and eight alleged Al Qaeda militants and up to two civilians, in addition to wounding others, according to local officials and residents, however the US has not confirmed the strike.

There have been conflicting accounts of the incident in reporting including the deathtoll, their civilian or belligerent status and whether the strike was conducted at a checkpoint or a vehicle traveling through the town. Reuters reported that three militants and two civilians were killed in a Yemeni airstrike, according to local residents and officials. However, AP claimed that six militants were killed when a strike hit a vehicle in the town. AFP, in contrast, reported that six militants were killed in a strike on a checkpoint in Shaqra which News 24 confirmed. CBS News corroborated the figure but provided no details on where or how the strike in Shaqra occured. Security officials told CNN that eight militants traveling in a convoy were killed in a drone strike, which was followed by a series of airstrikes by the Yemeni Air Force. A Facebook post from Yemen News Network from Aden mentions “wounded” from the airstrike but does not specify how many.

It remains unclear who was behind the incident, with residents and local officials reporting both airstrikes and artillery shelling and blaming both US military and Yemeni military forces.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Shaqra (شقرة) in the Abyan (أبين‎) governorate. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the town of Shaqra (شقرة) are: 13.356639, 45.699426.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Yemeni Air Force Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Yemeni Air Force
  • Yemeni Air Force position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM083-B

Incident date

May 16, 2012

Location

جبل يسوف, Jabal (Mount) Yasuf, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.894167, 45.889444 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

On the afternoon of May 16th 2012 in Jabal (Mount) Yasuf in the Abyan province, Yemen, 16 militants, allegedly members of Al Qaeda, were killed and between five and 14 others were injured in two airstrikes allegedly orchestrated by the Yemeni air force and carried out by Yemeni fighter jets with possible assistance from the US Navy.

Nashwan News referenced an official military source in the Yemeni Ministry of Defense confirming strikes in the Abyan governorate. Fox News also referenced officials confirming the occurrence of Yemeni airstrikes in the Abyan province, which hit a farm in Moudia 40 kilometers east of the town of Lawder, killing 16 alleged militants including top local commander Samir al-Fathani. Samir al-Fathani’s brother Abdul Munim al Fathani was involved in the bombing of the USS Cole reported AP. He was killed in a drone strike in January 2012 (USYEM046-B).

The same source confirmed US assistance in coordinating airstrikes and assaults in the area according to local officials, but there is no confirmation of their involvement in these specific strikes. However, witnesses told AFP that the US Navy was also involved in the attacks although the naval bombardment was not confirmed by official sources.

A local military official told Xinhua news that fighter jets belonging to the Yemeni air forces hit two Al Qaeda squads, killing 16 alleged militants and injuring five. The official also said “[t]he Al Qaeda militants were attacked while they were gathering for lunch in a mountainous area, Hidaan, east of Lauder town.”

Multiple local and Western sources, local residents and local officials have confirmed the location of the strikes in Abyan province and the killing of 16 alleged militants as a result of those strikes. A spokesperson from the Popular Resistance Committees, a local militia, also confirmed the killing of 16 alleged militants in Abyan Province and the wounding of 14. It is alleged that between 5-14 belligerents were wounded by the strikes, with the majority of sources, such as AFP citing the number injured as 14.

The attack came amid a concerted offensive by the Yemeni armed forces in Abyan province. As many as 20,000 soldiers were reportedly involved in the push, with assistance from US special forces.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    16
  • Belligerents reported injured
    5–14

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Officials said the raid - east of Lawdar, pictured here - targeted a hideout of al-Qaeda fighters on May 16th 2012 (via BBC).

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the airstrike targeted a farm in the area of Jabal (Mount) Yasuf (جبل يسوف), just east of the town Lawdar (لودر) in the Abyan (أبين‎) governorate. One source mentions that the farm was located in Moudia (مودية), which is further east. One other source reports that the strike took place in a mountainous area called ‘Hidaan’, east of Lawdar, however, we were unable to find the location of this area. The coordinates for the area of Jabal (Mount) Yasuf (جبل يسوف) are: 13.894167, 45.889444.

  • Jabal (Mount) Yasuf (جبل يسوف), east of the town Lawdar (لودر) and Moudia (مودية), further east.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Yemeni Air Force Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Yemeni Air Force
  • Yemeni Air Force position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    16
  • Belligerents reported injured
    5–14

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM082-C

Incident date

May 15, 2012

Location

جعار, Ja'ar, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.223161, 45.305486 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between 13 and 26 civilians – 14 of whom were named – died and 21 other civilians were injured in two or more alleged US, Yemeni, or Saudi airstrikes on the same location in Jaar on May 15, 2012, according to sources. An additional three to 25 AQAP members were also killed in the strikes.

Reports said that two or more strikes in quick succession reduced an entire block to rubble. Initial reports from government sources claimed two or three senior Al Qaeda militants were killed as well as at least eight civilians. This changed as more details emerged in subsequent reports.

Amnesty International identified 14 civilian victims by name – including a pregnant woman: 33 year old taxi driver Nuweir al-Arshani and the 12 others that died in the second strike as Majed Ahmed Abdullah Awad, aged 26; Salem Mohsen Haidar al Jalladi, aged around 35; Adeeb Ahmed Ghanem al-Doba’i, Mohammed Abdullah Saleh Hussein, Munir bin al-Haji bin al Assi, Ahmed Abdullah Ahmed al-Shahari, Salem Abdullah Ahmed Abkar, Hussein Mubarak Ahmed, Abd al-Rahman Motahhar, Hafez Abdullah Mubarak, Mohsen Ali Salem and Amir al-Azzani. Mariam Abdo Sa’id, aged in her thirties and pregnant, was reportedly a passer-by hit by flying shrapnel and died. Samir al-Mushari, 31, was wounded in the strike and suffered burns. Survivor Samir al-Mushari told USA Today 26 civilians died.

The strike was variously labelled as the work of US drones or a “botched” Yemen Air Force raid. Witnesses told NPR they were sure the strike was carried out by a US jet that was grey and “looked like an eagle”. And in January 2013 an investigation by the London Times reported the strike as a possible attack by a Saudi Arabian bomber. One resident described the aircraft he saw: “It wasn’t Yemeni. It was a black plane. It was Saudi.”

There was a consensus among reports that there were more than one strike on at least one house and possible also on some vehicles.

Al-Haidari reported that eight bodies were initially found and twenty-five people were hurt. Four of those twenty-five later died from their injuries.

CNN reported militants were killed in the first strike and civilians who gathered at the scene were killed in the second.

The BBC reported that civilians “were hit as they were trying to dig out the bodies of those killed in the initial attack.” Abdullah was badly burnt in the second strike. He told NPR the man who died in the first strike was just an ordinary citizen. The second strike killed at least 12 people instantly. ‘”They were cut…in pieces,” he said. “A wall where the second strike hit is still covered in blood.”

The owner of the house Nouir Muhammad Abdullah al Arshani, 33, (aka Nuweir al Arshani) was killed in the initial strike. Thirteen more died in the second attack “a few minutes” later.

Amnesty noted that residents and relatives vouched that al Arshani was unrelated to AQAP while some residents claimed that the house behind him had been rented to AQAP. His brother insisted that this was not the case. Witness accounts said that  “At around 8am or 8.30am, an aircraft flying low over Jaar roared towards al Hurur…and bombed Nuweir’s home. I saw pieces of the house flying through the air and thick dust… I and others ran to the site to help. The house was reduced to rubble and I could hear women screaming from the house just behind it… we helped around five to seven women and children get out of that house, and then a child saw parts of Nuweir’s body amid the rubble. We dug in and removed his body and placed it in the car of someone who took him to the [MSF] medical centre.” He continued that AQAP militants in an ambulance arrived and then left but an argument developed over their presence and the strike. That was when the second strike occurred.

Passers-by gathered at the scene and the aircraft “returned and bombed and fired into the crowd.” Nour Awad Haydara al Hawla, 60, was among the wounded. She suffered a stroke at the shock of the explosions near her home.

Amnesty and Swiss rights group Alkarama, who independently investigates the strike, also published the names of 12 men killed in the follow-up attack. Hassan Ahmed Abdullahs brother died in the strike. He told al Akbar:

“About 15 minutes later [after the initial strike], another plane suddenly struck the same building killing 15 people, including my brother. He was wounded by shrapnel in his chest, liver, and neck. He also had burns on 50 percent of his body.”

Ahmed Abdullah Awads son Majed was injured in the follow-up attack. In June 2013 he told Code Pink activists in Aden what happened:

“Majed was burned over 50 percent of his body…But there is only an emergency clinic in Ja’ar, and they said he was too seriously injured to be treated there. The nearest hospital is in Aden, and the main road was closed. It took four hours to get there. I held him in my arms while we were driving, and he kept bleeding. On the third day in the hospital, at 2:30 a.m., Majed’s heart stopped and he died.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Alkarama and HOOD submitted testimony of victims and witnesses of strikes in Yemen to an April 2013 Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing. The submission included testimony from taxi driver Muhammad Salih Abdullah al Amri, 65. He said:

“I was working on my car when I heard the sound of an explosion…I asked the people in the area what happened and they said that a strike had targeted the al Ashrani house. My house is adjacent to the al Ashrani house. I came and found that my house had been destroyed. Three members of my family had been in the house. One of them was injured, while the other two were not hurt. I took all of them and moved them to the house of one of my relatives in the city…The aircraft returned to bomb the people who had gathered to aid the wounded from the first strike. Rockets fell a few meters away from me. I was in my car and saw that it was on fire. I quickly got out of the car and saw a number of people in front of me lying on the ground. They were burning without any clothes. I saw at least seven or eight of them die at that moment.”

The Red Cross said it was “extremely concerned” at possible airstrikes on civilian locations and urged all warring parties to protect civilian life. The civilian death toll was the highest attributed to US action in Yemen since an attack on a former police station in Mudiya killed up to 30 civilians on July 14 2011 (USYEM022-C).

In April 2013, the US State Department’s annual report on Yemen’s human rights practices was published. In a section titled Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life, the report noted: “Attacks by government forces targeting AQAP and other non-state actors resulted in the deaths of civilians and bystanders, according to Amnesty International (AI). For example, on May 15, an air strike killed a civilian in his home in Jaar, and a second airstrike on the same location reportedly killed at least 13 civilians who gathered at the scene.” The State Department made no mention of possible US involvement in the attack.

The incident occured at 09:00:00 local time.

The victims were named as:

Mariam Abdo Said
35 years old female pregnant Pregnant killed
Nour Awad Haydara al Hawla
60 years old female injured
Majed Ahmed Abdullah Awad
26 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Salem Mohsen Haidar al Jalladi
35 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Adeeb Ahmed Ghanem al Doba’i
18 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Mohammed Abdullah Saleh Hussein
30 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Munir bin al Haji bin al Assi
25 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Ahmed Abdullah Ahmed al Shahari
26 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Salem Abdullah Ahmed Abkar
40 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Hussien Mubarak Ahmed
40 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Abd al Rahman Motahhar
23 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Hafez Abdullah Mubarak
25 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Amir al Azzani
45 years old male Reportedly killed in the follow-up attack killed
Hassan Ahmed Abdullah‘s brother
Adult male killed
Ahmed Abdullah Awad‘s son, Majed
Adult male injured

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    13 – 26
  • (1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    21
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Saudi-led Coalition, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–25

Sources (59) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • A boy stands next to his grandmother, Noor Awad al-Houla, 60, at their house in the southern Yemeni town of Jaar on February 1, 2013. The woman suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed after an air strike hit a neighboring house last year that was targeting al Qaeda-linked militants. (Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Reuters)
  • Damage caused by alleged US, Saudi, or Yemeni airstrikes in Jaar on May 15, 2012 (Image posted by NPR)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that a double airstrike targeted suspected militant vehicles and a building in a residential neighbourhood of the town of Ja’ar (جعار), in the Abyan (أبين‎) governorate. The first strike hit around 9 in the morning, the second 15 minutes later, killing civilians who had rushed to the site of the first strike. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the town of Ja’ar (جعار) are: 13.223161, 45.305486.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Saudi-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Saudi-led Coalition
  • Saudi-led Coalition position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Yemeni Air Force Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Yemeni Air Force
  • Yemeni Air Force position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    13 – 26
  • (1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    21
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Saudi-led Coalition, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–25

Sources (59) [ collapse]

Incident Code

SOM016-1

Incident date

May 15, 2012

Location

Near Haradheere, Somalia

Airwars assessment

The European Union (EU) launched attack helicopter and “maritime aircraft” strikes on an alleged pirate base near Haradheere. Stating that there had been no EU “boots on the ground”, reports indicated that helicopters from the EU’s Naval Force (NAVFOR) had destroyed nine speedboats, an arms dump and fuel supplies in a night-time raid.

Bile Hussein, a pirate commander, later told Associated Press: “They destroyed our equipment to ashes. It was a key supplies center for us,” Hussein said. “The fuel contributed to the flames and destruction. Nothing was spared.’ The pirates responded angrily to the strike and pirate commander Abdi Yare told AFP ‘If they continue attacking Somali coastal villages, then there will be terrible consequences.’ Although no casualties were recorded fisherman Mohammed Hussein alleged fishing boats were destroyed in the operation. ‘We are very much worried that fishermen will die in such operations,’ he added.

Speaking to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, NAVFOR spokesperson Lt Cmdr Sheriff acknowledged some pirate camps were also used by fishermen but said the target of the strike had been a known pirate base with no fishing activity.

NAVFOR commander Rear Admiral Duncan Potts said of the attack: “The EU Naval Force action against pirate supplies on the shoreline is merely an extension of the disruption actions carried out against pirate ships at sea. We believe this action by the EU Naval Force will further increase the pressure on and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea and attack merchant shipping and dhows.”

Although the EU did not reveal which nations had taken part in the attack, AP reported that the newly-commissioned French amphibious assault ship Dixmude, part of NAVFOR, carried Tigre helicopter gunships. But NAVFOR spokesperson Timo Lange told the Bureau the Dixmude had left the EU flotilla at around the end of April, returning to French naval command. Lt Cmdr Sherriff told the Bureau the attack was instead carried out with helicopters “organic to the ships we have with us” and that small arms fire was used for the attack.

However “an intelligence operative close to EU anti-piracy operations” told Defence Report EU that ground forces did lead the strike, saying the destruction of the pirates’ fast boats could only have been achieved with a ground assault.

EU foreign policy spokesperson Michael Mann said that “This action against piracy is part of a comprehensive EU approach to the crisis in Somalia, where we support a lasting political solution on land.” A Royal Navy source told the Daily Telegraph it was a good time to step up attacks on pirate infrastructure. The source continued: “However, the Somalis will certainly be better prepared next time round and are likely to defend their bases with significant anti-aircraft assets now they know that the ante has been upped. This will inevitably lead to bloodshed and escalation.”

The EU had paved the way for the strikes in a March 23 decision allowing it to target Somalia’s “territorial, coastal and internal waters.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Known attacker
    EU Military
  • Suspected target
    Other

Sources (13) [ collapse]

EU Military Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    EU Military
  • EU Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Known attacker
    EU Military
  • Suspected target
    Other

Sources (13) [ collapse]