Between four and seven Al Qaeda militants were killed in an alleged US drone strike conducted against a car travelling on a coastal road between the towns of Azzan and Mukalla in the Brom Mayfa district in Hadhramout governorate on the 28th of May, 2012.
Mareb Press reported that “a U.S. drone killed five Al Qaeda militants in the Burum and Mayfa district of Hadhramout governorate” and further stated that eyewitnesses had claimed that the five people killed were members of Ansar al-Sharia and were travelling to Mayfa. Reuters, Nashwan News and several local sources such as @yosfgrx, @andrecolling, and @SUHFNET_YE stated the number of militants killed in the strike to be seven. However, on the 30th of May, the local news outlet the Mukalla Star reported that security services in Hadhramout governorate had stated that “five terrorist elements were killed in the strike.”
Additionally, the Mukalla Star reported that the missile fired in the airstrike was launched from a “drone plane” and the remains of two of those killed in the attack were prayed for at a local mosque, and then buried in Ambikha cemetery. Xinhua quoted a security official who, on condition of anonymity, stated that “the U.S. drone fired two missiles on a pick-up truck in Mayfa area, west of Mukalla.” A report by www.thenews.com stated that the Yemeni Air Force (YAF) may have received a “tip off” about the militant meeting, and quoted a security official who said that “the militants were in a leafy area under trees.” It should be noted that the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) drew attention to the fact that some sources had told the Yemen Post that the missile had in fact come from “a ship off the Yemeni coast”.
Nashwan News referred to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) which stated that amongst the activists killed, was the “local military leader of Al Qaeda, Saleh Abdul Khaleq.” This was also reported by www.emirates247.com and local sources such as @Yesgsioshi, although emirates247 reported that Khaleq had been killed “in an air raid conducted by Yemeni warplanes”, rather than by a U.S. drone.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism similarly made reference to a report on the strike by Agence France-Presse (AFP) which said that the attack was carried out by the Yemen Air Force (YAF) but the BIJ added that “the air force reportedly lacks the technical ability to carry out a precision strike on a moving vehicle.”
Regarding the aftermath of the strike, the Mukalla Star reported that the local security services that investigated the ‘strike site’ found five burnt corpses and four ID cards. The ID cards belonged to: Hussein Salem Ali Rabie, from Shabwa governorate; Abd al-Malik Mohsen Salem Baqtan from the city of Mukalla; Saleh Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Hamiri from the directorate of Hadramout; and Muhammad Abdullah Hussain Al-Saqqaf, from Mukalla.
The security services investigation team was reported to have additionally found several burnt automatic rifles at the site of the strike, and confirmed that the vehicle hit in the attack was a beige colour “2010 model Shass”. The local investigation team reportedly noted that the car was “completely burnt out.” Finally, the Mukalla Star reported that the dead bodies were taken to a local hospital for legal procedures.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (25) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the airstrike targeted a vehicle on a deserted coastal road between the towns Azzan (عزان) and Mukalla (المكلا). Some sources point to the ‘Broom’ and ‘Mayfa’ areas, west of Mukkala (المكلا), which most likely refers to the Brom Mayfa district (مديرية بروم ميفع) in Hadhramout (حضرموت) governorate. Several sources mention that the vehicle was hit around 60 kilometers west of Mukalla (المكلا), one points out that the militants were in a ‘leafy area under trees’. The coordinates for the road between Azzan (عزان) and Mukalla (المكلا), around 60 km west of Mukalla (المكلا) are: 14.129624, 48.764386. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.