Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEM054-C

Incident date

March 30, 2012

Location

عزان, Azzan, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.325037, 47.448612 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Street level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Initial reports suggested that one civilian was killed and six to eight civilians, including three to six children, were injured in an alleged US drone strike targeting a vehicle allegedly carrying AQAP members, in the city of Azzan in Shabwa Province at 4pm on the 30th of March 2012. A later report by Akkarama on the attack revealed that one civilian was killed and six children and a woman were injured by flying shrapnel. Furthermore between two and five militants were killed and three others were injured.

The Yemen Times alleged that the drones launched two missiles at a Hyundai which was thought to belong to militants with connections to Al Qaeda.

Reuters reported that officials and residents claim that a bystander was killed and five other civilians wounded. Zeenews added that an official at the local hospital in Azzan claimed, “six people in a car travelling in the opposite direction of the targeted vehicle were wounded, one of whom later died.”

Based on intelligence, it was reported by the Yemen Times that an Al Qaeda leader named Nasser al-Wahaishi, also known as Abu Naseer, was in Azzan and in the vicinity. However, he was not killed in this strike (he was killed in a US drone strike in 2015). The paper reported that after the attack, locals found the bodies of seven people scattered over the road. The source identified the civilian killed as: Mohamed Saleh Al-Suna, 55 from Al-Hawta city in Shabwa died from injuries sustained from shrapnel in the strike”.

The children injured were identified by Alkarama as:

Amin Ali Hassan al Wisabi, 13, hit by shrapnel in the right thigh

Hamza Khaled Saleh Ba Zihyad, 10, hit by shrapnel in the chest

Saleh Ali Omar Ba Ziyad, 14, hit by shrapnel in the thigh

Merouan Nasser Ahmed Suleiman Ba Btah, 14, hit by shrapnel in the right foot

Abdallah Muhammed Muhammed Ba Qtiyan, 14, hit by shrapnel in the back

Saleh Abdelfattah Abdallah Haymid Ba Qtiyan, 12, hit by shrapnel in the back

Another of the victims was a woman by the name of Samira Hamadi Al-Wisabi, aged 48. Her son Nadir, aged 14, recalls: “My mother suffered paralysis during the bombing.”

China Daily reported that: “Medics told Xinhua anonymously that eight civilians were injured during the air strike and had been brought to treatment in a nearby hospital.” and further quoted a local resident who told the news agency: “Flames and smoke could be seen rising from the bombing area following the air raid”.

Yemen Fox also reported on the incident and claimed that the attack targeted Al Qaeda leader Nasser al Wahaisihi, also known as Abu Naseer. It quoted a local who said that a local named Seleh al-Senh (likely the same as the civilian above) was killed and three children injured.

A year later a report by Alkarama investigated the incident and revealed that Mohamed Saleh Al-Suna (60) who was passing by was killed and six children were injured due to the attack. Amin Ali Hassan Al-Wisabi (13) was quoted saying: “I was sitting with my friends there, and we were going to play football, when suddenly we were shaken by the sound of a violent explosion. I looked in front of me and saw a car burning. A missile had struck it. Shrapnel hit me in my foot, but I didn’t feel any pain, and I ran towards the house with blood flowing from my injury. I saw the car burning beside me and one of my friends lost consciousness. Someone came with a car and took us to the hospital.”

The Long War Journal stated that the US aircraft targeted a vehicle driving in Azzan, allegedly transporting senior AQAP leaders after leaving a mosque after a Friday prayer. The Journal reported that a Yemeni official told the associated press that” 4 AQAP fighters were killed and three critically wounded”.

Boston News added that the three injured militants were brought to the Al Qaeda-run hospital in Shabwa.

Contrary to the Journal and Boston News, Reuters, Aljazeera and Zeennews claim the death of five AQAP militants. Reuters claims that “at least five suspected Al Qaeda militants travelling in a car in southern Yemen’s Shabwa province were killed when a drone strike set their vehicle on fire” while the Alkarma report states the death of two militants. A tweet from @BaFana3 quoted local sources who said that Fahd AlQuso was killed in the strikes. However, he was not killed in this strike – he was killed by another US drone strike in May 2012.

All of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the casualties to a US drone strike.

Reuters revealed that as retaliation and as a reaction to the attack, a gunman believed to be connected to the militants killed and blew up a gas pipeline which ”transports gas to a facility whose leading stakeholder is French oil major Total at Balhaf port on the Arabian Sea” energy workers said.

The incident occured at 16:00:00 local time.

The victims were named as:

Adult male killed
14 years old injured
10 years old injured
13 years old injured
Samira Hamadi Al-Wisabi
48 years old female injured

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention several locations in the town of Azzan (عزان), the main road, a land road in the Western outskirts of the town and the main market. A possible location for the land road is: 14.329183, 47.440177; the main road can be found here: 14.325037, 47.448612. The location of the main market is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    6–8
  • 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
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (38) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • "Three al-Qaeda members were killed in Shabwa province by an air strike" Image posted by Islam Times

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

U.S. drones attack militants in Pakistan, Yemen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.-operated drones carried out deadly missile strikes against suspected al Qaeda targets in Pakistan and Yemen on Friday, U.S. government sources said.

There was no connection between the targets in the two locations, other than the fact that both sets of militants who were attacked were believed to have had some connection with al Qaeda affiliates, according to the sources.
Reports from Aden said that at least five suspected al Qaeda militants travelling in a car in southern Yemen’s Shabwa province were killed when a drone strike set their vehicle on fire. Witnesses said a second drone hit an empty building.
In Miranshah, the main town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, a drone strike killed four suspected militants and wounded three others, local intelligence officials and militants said. An intelligence official claimed the dead men were local Taliban militants.
Both drone strikes are understood to have been conducted as part of a long-running campaign intended to kill and disrupt al-Qaeda using missile-firing drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, which declines comment on such operations.
U.S. officials cited the latest drone attacks as a refutation of recent news reports suggesting the United States was curtailing drone operations.
One report, which U.S. officials denied, said that earlier this year, the United States had offered a suspension of drone attacks in Pakistan in connection with efforts to improve strained bilateral relations.
A U.S. official said: “The United States is conducting, and will continue to conduct, the counter terrorism operations it needs to protect the U.S. and its interests.”
The official added that the United States and Pakistan were continuing to engage in “an ongoing dialogue about how best the two countries can enhance their cooperation against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that threaten the citizens and interests of both countries.”
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
U.S. officials acknowledged the rate of drone strikes in Pakistan had declined over the past year.
For a two-month period beginning late last year, attacks were suspended, in part to ease Pakistani anger over a November border incident in which U.S. forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in an aerial bomb attack along a remote area of the Afghan/Pakistan border.
U.S. drone strikes in North Waziristan, where U.S. authorities believe many al Qaeda and Taliban militants take shelter, resumed in January. But the rate of attacks has remained scaled back compared to more frequent strikes which followed a loosening of the rules for targeting such attacks in the final months of the Bush administration.
Bush’s new rules of engagement for drones, in which gatherings of suspected “foreign fighters” could be targeted without hard information that a “high value” militant leader was among them, remained unchanged under president Barack Obama, until relations between Washington and Islamabad started on a downward spiral in late 2010.
U.S.-Pakistan tensions continued to deteriorate following incidents like the May 2011 raid in which U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden at a hideout near Pakistan’s principal military academy and the wayward U.S. airstrike last November.
As a consequence, in recent months the frequency of drone strikes has been noticeably scaled back. One U.S. official said that under updated procedures, more and higher-level, advance scrutiny is being given within the U.S. government before authorizations for attacks are issued.

According to a U.S. source, the latest drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen targeted persons who could be considered as suspected members of the leadership of al Qaeda’s Pakistani and Yemeni affiliates.
In neither case were the targets, whose fates are unconfirmed, figures who would be known to the general public as militant leaders, the source said.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    6–8
  • 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
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (38) [ collapse]