Up to four civilians were killed when an alleged US drone reportedly fired eight missiles on a residential house with a winery on the ground floor in the village of Hashim in Hadramout. Sources were conflicted as to who was killed, with some reporting that the strike killed up to six Al Qaeda affiliates and wounded three more militants.
According to the DPA news agency, “Four civilians were killed Wednesday in an airstrike by a US drone in eastern Yemen”. The sources added: “A local worker and three foreigners were killed in the strike on a house in the area of Wadi al-Ain in the province of Hadramout, said the independent Yemeni website Mareb Press.” A tweet from @BaFana3 reported that one civilian and four Iraqi/Syria Al Qaeda members were killed.
An anonymous US intelligence official confirmed a US drone carried out the strike. However, according to the Long War Journal, the Yemeni military later took responsibility for the attack. A Yemeni security official said “none of those killed were on the government’s list of most-wanted terrorists.” The anonymous official told CNN: “Those killed were mostly new Al Qaeda members who were seeking to recruit more fighters from within the province. Only one of those killed had been with the network for more than three years.”
Initial reports said that two middle-ranking or senior members of the local branch of Al Qaeda were also among the dead, and a Yemeni military official said a “senior [Al Qaeda] member” named as Murad Ben Salem was killed in the strike.
However, an anonymous source told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that Murad, while he may have had militant links, was a worker to whom a traditional sesame oil press belonged to. Other sources, including Hour News, referred to the location as a “vegetable oil presser” and winery, adding that the explosion demolished the house that the winery was located below.
The source also reported that two foreign Al Qaeda members were killed, an Iraqi and a Syrian. Other reports said a Saudi and an Iraqi were among the dead. Xinhua identified three militants as being injured, and added that they had managed to flee the bombing area.
Witnesses reported that eight men escaped the building. “Weapons found in the house after the attack are enough to conduct more than a dozen terrorist operations,” according to a senior security official.
Reuters was the sole agency later to report that AQAP number two Said al Shehri died in the attack. AQAP announced the death of al Shehri in a video that was released on July 16, 2013 according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained the video. However, the statement does not specify when he was killed, only that it was by US drones. In October 2012, AP reported that “a man claiming to be Saudi-born [Said al Shehri] says reports of his death were a “rumor to cover up the killing of innocent Muslim civilians: and in April 2013, AQAP released a statement from al Shihri, and referred to him as if he was alive.
The reports at hand do contradict each other to some extent on how many civilians and belligerents were killed by the drone attack. While Reuters states that only five belligerents were killed in the attack, other sources such as Marebpress write that only four civilians were killed.
In addition, Hournews and Yafanews stated that the attack took place on September 4. All others reported that the strike took place on September 5.
Hour News reported that the bombing led to a state of panic and terror among the population, “as the target was between the residential houses in the Al-Hashem area and near the 26th of September School and close to the Babiker Charitable Hospital, which was dominated by a state of confusion within its departments and fear and panic among its sick”.
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 around dawn.
Sources (19) [ collapse]
Reports mention the village of Hashim (الهشم) in the Wadi Al Ain (وادي العين) area, Hadhramout governorate. The coordinates for the village of Hashim (الهشم) are: 15.4619740, 48.4316200. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
An anonymous US intelligence official confirmed to the Long War Journal that a US drone carried out the strike:
"...he strike was carried out by the US’s fleet of unmanned Predators and Reapers based in the area, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. US drones have zeroed in on Hadramout province over the past month. Of the seven recorded strikes since the beginning of August, five have taken place in the eastern province..."