Civilians killed in errant US drone strike in Yemen

American drones killed at least 13 Yemeni civilians in an errant airstrike in the country on Thursday, further calling into question the Obama administration's aggressive use of the controversial counterterrorism tactic. 

Roughly 10 civilians were killed immediately in the strike, after U.S. drones mistook the group traveling through al-Bayda province in central Yemen for an al Qaeda convoy. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Ten other members of the group, which Yemeni officials say were en route to a wedding party nearby, were injured during the attack. 

Of those 10 Yemeni civilians hurt in the attack, five later died from their injuries after being evacuated to a nearby hospital, according to Reuters

It remains unclear how U.S. forces tagged and targeted the 10-car convoy as an al Qaeda target. 

More than 80 percent of all U.S. armed drone strikes are targeted in Pakistan and Yemen.

The Obama administration claims the controversial counterterrorism tactic has been invaluable to decimating senior leaders within al Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups in those regions. 

Previous American-led drone strikes in Yemen have often targeted and taken out individual vehicles or small groups of vehicles suspected of ferrying al Qaeda fighters across the country. 

The al-Bayda strike took place two days after U.S. unmanned aircraft killed three suspected members of al Qaeda's Yemeni cell traveling in the volatile Hadramawt province in southern Yemen, a known stronghold for the al Qaeda cell, dubbed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). 

The attack was the first American drone strike against members of the Yemeni faction since a deadly suicide bombing in the country's capitol of Sanaa last Thursday. 

AQAP leaders claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted Yemen's Defense Ministry. 

American military and intelligence officials have dubbed the AQAP one of the most active and dangerous al Qaeda cells operating in the world.