Sana`a: The Yemeni government on Wednesday apologised to families of 42 civilians killed in an airstrike that targeted al Qaeda figures in southern Yemen in December.
Deputy Prime Minister for Defence and Security Rashad al-Alimi made the apology in the Parliament, saying the government would pay compensation.
An ad hoc fact-finding committee submitted to the Parliament a report saying that 42 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed in the December 17 airstrike in al-Maajala area of the southern Abyan province.
"We apologise to those innocent citizens killed in the operation against al Qaeda organisation in Abyan," al-Alimi said in a statement during a parliamentary debate on the strike.
"We work, and anyone who works makes mistakes," he said.
Al-Alimi said President Ali Abdullah Saleh had made orders to the government to pay compensation.
Authorities have said the airstrike targeted a meeting of leading al Qaeda figures and that 30 al Qaeda men were killed. Later officials said only two al Qaeda members were killed in the raid.
Sana`a has stepped up operations against al Qaeda in the country since December, especially after the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the failed plot to blow up a US passenger jet as it prepared to land at Detroit on Christmas Day.