An alleged US drone strike killed between eight and 10 suspected Al Qaeda militants on the road between the town of Qatn and the village of Khasha in the Hadramout province at 7.30am on August 31st, 2012. There were no reports of civilian harm.
@basselabowardh was among the first to tweet that a drone was responsible for an attack that killed eight people. There were a series of reports that included discrepancies concerning the number of individuals who were killed. Journalist @ahmadalwosabi and @bamakhrmh both tweeted that eight people were killed, with the former specifically describing the missile fired as “American”. Eight was the generally accepted number as a Reuters report noted eight deaths, citing an anonymous member of the Yemeni Defense Ministry. The Nashwan News reported that eight suspected Al Qaeda operatives were killed, and this report was mirrored by Xinhua and Bloomberg News.
However, @Alraimediagroup and the Hadath newspaper both reported that nine individuals were killed in the strike, and the Syrian News Network reported that ten suspected militants died in the strike. Sadasaida.com and Anawen.net both listed the death toll at nine following the strike. Albawaba News reported that eight militants were killed in a “remote location”, citing an anonymous local Yemeni official. The same official said the men who were killed were carrying machine guns and explosives and were traveling to “launch an attack”. Suhf.net tweeted (@suhfnet_ye) reported that Al Qaeda militants were killed in a “U.S. plane attack” but did not reference any civilian deaths.
Sadasaida.com referred to the location of the strikes as a vehicle in the Al-Khasha area while Nashwan News quoted AFP who reported that a four-wheel drive vehicle on the road between the town of Qatn and the village of Khasha was struck by a drone.
The Yemen defense ministry subsequently announced that Khaled Musalem Batis (aka Bates or Batees) died in the strike. Batis had been captured previously by security forces but escaped prison during the 2011 uprising. He was described as a top Al Qaeda militant wanted for allegedly masterminding a 2002 Al Qaeda attack on a French oil tanker MV Limburg. A Bulgarian sailor died in that attack.
The incident occured at approximately 7:30 am local time.
Sources (30) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the vehicle was struck in the desert district of Hawra (حورة), in the governorate Hadramout (حضرموت), on the road between the town of Qatn (قطن) and the village of Khasha (الخشعة). The coordinates for the middle of the road between the two are: 15.781785, 48.292870, just north of the town of Hawra (حورة). Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.