A Yemeni rights group said on Tuesday a sixth grade student was killed in a US drone strike east of the capital Sanaa, an assertion that could raise fresh concern over Washington’s campaign against suspected militants.
The National Organization for Drone Victims (NODV) said Mohammed Saleh Qayed Taeiman, said to be between 11 and 13 years old, was one of three people reported killed in Monday’s drone strike. It said his father and older brother were killed in a 2011 drone strike, and a third brother was wounded in another drone attack.
Yemeni officials said on Monday that three men believed to be members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) were killed in a car travelling in the Hareeb region of Marib province, the first drone strike since US-backed President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah quit last Thursday.
A tribal leader told Reuters that Taeiman was an AQAP militant. Another tribal leader said he was about 15 years old. But the NODV described him as “a normal kid.”
“He was in sixth grade, so his age was between 11 and 13,” NODV head Mohammed al-Qawli told Reuters, adding that Taeiman was recently treated at a Yemeni government military hospital in Sanaa after he was kicked by a camel.
NODV announced that Taeiman’s 65-year-old father, Saleh Qayed Taeiman, died along with one of his sons, Jalal, 16, in a 2011 drone strike. A third brother, 17-year-old Ezz al-Deen, survived another drone strike, but still has shrapnel in his body, NODV said.
NODV said that one of the other victims in Monday’s strike was identified as Abdullah Khaled Aziz al-Zindani, a farm worker married to a woman from the Taeiman clan, which was due to meet with other tribes in the area.
Yemeni authorities have for years allowed Washington to carry out drone strikes against AQAP. However, US drone attacks in the impoverished Gulf country have also killed many civilians unaffiliated with al-Qaeda.
On Sunday, US President Barack Obama insisted Washington would pursue its efforts against al-Qaeda in Yemen regardless of the current political crisis.
Two US security officials had said on Friday the collapse of Hadi’s US-backed government left America’s counter-terrorism campaign “paralyzed,” but Monday’s strike suggests the CIA-run drone campaign has not been dismantled.
Critics of US drone strikes have denounced the impact the attacks have had on Yemeni civilians, who have been killed or seen their homes destroyed. The United States counts any male of military age killed in drone strikes as “militants,” regardless of their actual involvement with al-Qaeda.
Source: Al-Akhbar English