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Yemenis fear US missile attacks as much as al Qaeda: Human Rights Watch

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 17:18

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Washington: The missile attacks carried out by the US in a bid to target terrorists in Yemen, also killed many civilians and hence the civilians fear America as much as the al Qaeda, a report released by Human Rights Watch said.

In a report running into 102 pages and titled - ‘Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda’: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen”, the author has assessed six targeted attacks in Yemen, one in 2009 and rest in 2012-2013, which killed harmless civilians other than killing the militants.

The report has been authored by Letta Tayler, who is a senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The US missile attacks are said to be directed against AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) but according to the report by Human Rights Watch, many civilians who were not on US target, were also being killed.

“The US says it is taking all possible precautions during targeted killings, but it has unlawfully killed civilians and struck questionable military targets in Yemen..." said Letta Tayler.

She added, “Yemenis told us that these strikes make them fear the US as much as they fear Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Urging the US to review the "legality" of its attacks, Tayler said, “The US should investigate attacks that kill civilians and hold those responsible for violations to account... It’s long past time for the US to assess the legality of its targeted killings, as well as the broader impact of these strikes on civilians.”

The report is based on the interviews conducted with 90 poeple including the victims` kins, lawyers, witnesses etc and the rights body also took into account the evidences of attacks while making the report.

The six strikes in spotlight, killed a total of 82 people out of which 57 were said to be civilians.

The attacks include the one in September 2012 when 12 civilians were killed when a US drone attack targeted a passenger van.

The actual AQAP leader on target was reportedly nowhere nearby.

Similarly in December 2009, a US cruise missile attack involving indiscriminate weapons attacked a Bedouin camp in al-Majalah village, killing 14 AQAP men but also 41 civilians, majority of which were women and children.

And in another strike in August 2012, three alleged AQAP members were killed along with an anti-AQAP cleric and his cousin.

The HRW report on US missile attacks in Yemen was released along with an Amnesty International report on drone attacks in Pakistan in a joint news conference.

First Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 15:30

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