Ten to 43 suspected militants were reported killed in a drone strike at 9:15pm on al Bayda, Yemen, March 9th, 2012. Yet in interviews, human rights activists and victims’ relatives said “many” of the dead were civilians, not fighters, with at least two named civilian victims and a report of a child killed. As many as 55 people were also wounded. United States officials took responsibility for the strike on April 1st, 2012.
Two alleged civilians were named in a Washington Post report as the brothers of Salim al Barakani.
A late evening airstrike on Bayda by US drones struck a gathering of alleged militants. As many as 34 ‘AQAP militants died including ‘four senior leaders‘ – one named as Hadaar al Homaiqani, a local AQAP leader. Almasdar Online added additional names of those killed: Hadaar al Homaiqani (two cousins with the same name), Abdul-Aziz Al-Barq, Mohsen Mirza, and Ahmed Sharaf, and two belonging to the Al-Qirbi family, and a person called Abdul-Malik (from Sana’a) and another called Samarkand (from Sanaa) and two belonging to the Al-Barakani family, in addition to two from Shabwa governorate and another from Mudiyah, Abyan. Albayan added the names Ali Ahmad al-Barakani, Husayn Ahmad al-Barakani, Ali Taha al-Qirbi, Saleh Taha al-Qirbi, and Muhammad Taha al-Qirbi.
Bayda’s governor claimed “two Pakistanis, two Saudi nationals, and one Syrian and one Iraqi” were among the dead.
A source in the city told Reuters that “Flames and smoke could be seen rising from the area,” while a military official reported that ‘the attack targeted a gathering of Al Qaeda elements and a number of them were killed.’
An AQAP spokesman told Xinhua: “More than two US drones are still striking several posts of al Qaida in three villages outside al Bayda’s central city.” AQAP also released a statement that only 17 of its fighters were killed in al Bayda and no one was injured.
On March 11th, 2012 Al-Bayan stated that eyewitnesses reported that the strikes killed 27 and wounded 55. A tweet from @ElMokhalesTV reported that 43 people were killed. Neither source specified whether the killed or wounded were civilians or belligerents.
On March 11th at 10:31am local time, journalist @ionacraig tweeted that a 13 year-old boy was killed in a “recent US drone strike.” However, it is unclear if he is referencing this strike or the one on March 10th.
On April 1st, 2012 a US official confirmed the attack, with the Los Angeles Times reporting: ‘American missiles soon rained down. The Al Qaeda commander was killed, along with 22 other suspected militants, most of them believed to be young recruits receiving military training, US officials said.’ The strike was reportedly carried out by a JSOC drone.
In May 2012, the Washington Post reported that ‘many civilians’ had died in the attack, according to interviews with victims’ relatives and human rights activists. Two brothers of local businessman Salim al Barakani – one a teacher, the other a cellphone repairman, were among the civilians killed.
Almotamar quoted Brigadier General Ali Aziz Al-Hujaili, commander of the Al-Bayda governorate axis, commander of the 26th Republican Guard Brigade, who said that an air strike, which he described as successful, was launched against the headquarters of terrorist groups of Al Qaeda in the Al-Mukhanq area and in the people of Madbi in Al-Bayda Governorate.
Al Barakani told The Post that after the attack: “Villagers were too afraid to go to the area. Al Qaeda militants took advantage and offered to bury the villagers’ relatives. That made people even more grateful and appreciative of Al Qaeda. Afterwards, Al Qaeda told the people, ‘We will take revenge on your behalf.’ ”
Due to the nature of both CIA and US military involvement in Yemen, and the lack of official acknowledgement by the CIA for their involvement, Airwars grades this event as “declared” due to the comments made by US government sources to media, in lieu of public reporting on CIA actions.
The incident occured at 21:15:00 local time.
Sources (48) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that three villages west of Bayda town were targeted, named Al Makhnaq (or Al Makhzan), Al Dooqi (or Al Dogi or Dhabiah) and Al Mahmdud (or Al Mahmdood). The ‘Jabra area’ in Al Zahir district is also mentioned to have been targeted. The village Al Makhnaq (المخنق) in Al Zahir district in the Bayda governorate is located at these coordinates: 14.0141440, 45.3676450. Airwars was unable to verify the location of the other two villages mentioned, or the ‘Jabra area’.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
On April 1st, a US official confirmed the attack, with the Los Angeles Times reporting: ‘American missiles soon rained down. The al Qaeda commander was killed, along with 22 other suspected militants, most of them believed to be young recruits receiving military training, US officials said.’