Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEM108-C

Incident date

June 20, 2012

Location

المحفد, Mahfed district, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.989198, 46.680717 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

On the 20th of June 2012, an airstrike allegedly by US or Yemeni forces in northern Abyan killed Hussein Saleh (35), a worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), multiple sources, such as Reuters, reported. Al-Sahwa Net also reported that seven militants were killed and 10 others were wounded in the same incident.

According to Adengad Saleh was the Vice President of the ICRC in Aden and was expecting his fifth child with his wife. A news release by the ICRC, stated that Hussein Saleh was “assessing the humanitarian situation in the region” with three other workers from the ICRC when he was struck. A spokeswoman from the ICRC reported that Saleh’s colleagues were not injured in the strike. A local official told Reuters that it was the Yemeni Air Force which carried out the attack but at least two Twitter sources, @ps_press and @Emilioftorsello, reported that it was a US strike which killed Saleh. Another ICRC member told the BBC that it was not clear whether the attack was the work of a US drone or the Yemeni Air Force.

Much confusion exists concerning the details of the strike. Whereas most reports suggest that the strike took place on Wednesday the 20th of June, BBC reported that the strike took place on Tuesday morning whilst a report from Adengad suggests that Saleh was killed on Thursday afternoon. Little is also known about the exact location of the air strike. Adengad claimed that Saleh was hit whilst travelling between Ataq (the provincial capital) and Aden. An ICRC spokeswoman told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism by email that Saleh “was outside an ICRC vehicle when shrapnel hit him. He died from the shrapnel injuries. The strike did not hit the ICRC vehicle directly.” Furthermore, Adengad reports that Saleh was transported to Ataq Central Hospital after the strike, but that his life could not be saved.

According to Al-Sahwa Net, airstrikes on a gathering of Al Qaeda militants the afternoon of June 20th resulted in the death of eight people and the wounding of 10 others, and that one of the dead was the civilian Hussein Saleh who “was injured while passing near the place where the militants were targeted.”

The ICRC have been sparse in the details that they have given with spokesperson Hicham Hassan reporting that “It was an air strike. We have no additional details whatsoever”. The head of the ICRC in Yemen, Eric Marclay, added however that “We are devastated by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague Hussein,” and that “He was a very motivated and devoted staff member. He played a tremendously crucial role within his team helping hundreds of thousands of people in the south, and lost his life while performing humanitarian work.” The exact details of what humanitarian work Saleh was conducting at the time remains a little unclear. However, Reuters and Al Jazeera report that Saleh was attempting to get in contact with Al Qaeda militants so that he could negotiate the release of one of his co-workers who was kidnapped by the organisation in April. It was reported by Adengad that the strike that killed Saleh took place only hours after a similar strike conducted by the Yemeni Air Force killed up to 30 Al Qaeda militants in a hideout in Mahfed which is also in Northern Abyan (USYEM109-B).

The incident occured in the morning.

The victims were named as:

Hussein Saleh
35 years old male killed

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the northern part of the Abyan (أبين‎) province. In the same reports the district of Mahfed (المحفد) is mentioned, although not directly related to the death of Hussein Saleh. However, the Mahfed (المحفد) district is in the north of Abyan (أبين‎) province and it is most likely the location of the strike. The generic coordinates for the Mahfed district are: 13.989198, 46.680717. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man1 healthcare_personnel1 other protected person)
  • 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
    7
  • Belligerents reported injured
    10

Sources (19) [ collapse]

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
    1
  • (1 man1 healthcare_personnel1 other protected person)
  • 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
    7
  • Belligerents reported injured
    10

Sources (19) [ collapse]