Agence France-Presse & Amnesty International & Associated Press – 2010-06-07 01:39:18
US Missile ‘Killed Yemen Civilians’
(June 7, 2010) — A US cruise missile carrying cluster bombs was behind a December attack in Yemen that killed 55 people, most of them civilians, Amnesty International (AI) says.
The London-based rights group released photographs on Monday that it said showed the remains of a US-made Tomahawk missile and unexploded cluster bombs that were apparently used in the December 17, 2009 attack on the rural community of Al-Maajala in Yemen’s southern Abyan province.
“Amnesty International is gravely concerned by evidence that cluster munitions appear to have been used in Yemen,” said Mike Lewis, the group’s arms control researcher. “Cluster munitions have indiscriminate effects and unexploded bomblets threaten lives and livelihoods for years afterwards,” he said.
“A military strike of this kind against alleged militants without an attempt to detain them is at the very least unlawful,” said Philip Luther, deputy director of AI’s Middle East and North Africa Program.
Yemen’s defence ministry had claimed responsibility for the attack without mentioning a US role, saying between 24 and 30 militants had been killed at an alleged Al-Qaeda training camp.
But a local official said 49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women, were killed “indiscriminately.”
AI said that a Yemeni parliamentary committee reported in February that in addition to 14 alleged Al-Qaeda militants, 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children, were killed in the attack.
“The fact that so many of the victims were actually women and children indicates that the attack was in fact grossly irresponsible, particularly given the likely use of cluster munitions,” Luther said.
AI said photographs it had obtained showed damaged remains of the BGM-109D Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile.
“This type of missile, launched from a warship or submarine, is designed to carry a payload of 166 cluster sub-munitions (bomblets) which each explode into over 200 sharp steel fragments that can cause injuries up to 150 metres (about 500 feet) away,” an AI statement said.
“An incendiary material inside the bomblet also spreads fragments of burning zirconium designed to set fire to nearby flammable objects,” it said.
The Yemen parliamentary committee had said when it visited the site that “all the homes and their contents were burnt and all that was left were traces of furniture,” AI said.
AI said it had requested information about the attack from the Pentagon, but had not yet received a response.
Amnesty said it had obtained the photographs from its own sources, but had not released them earlier in order to ascertain their authenticity and give the United States time to respond.
The United States and Yemen have not yet signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a treaty designed to comprehensively ban such weapons which is due to enter into force on 1 August, 2010.
Â© AFP 2010
Munitions Point to US Role in Fatal Attack in Yemen
(June 7, 2010) — Amnesty International has released images of a US-manufactured cruise missile that carried cluster munitions, apparently taken following an attack on an alleged al-Qa’ida training camp in Yemen that killed 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children.
The 17 December 2009 attack on the community of al-Ma’jalah in the Abyan area in the south of Yemen killed 55 people including 14 alleged members of al-Qa’ida.
“A military strike of this kind against alleged militants without an attempt to detain them is at the very least unlawful. The fact that so many of the victims were actually women and children indicates that the attack was in fact grossly irresponsible, particularly given the likely use of cluster munitions,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
The Yemeni government has said its forces alone carried out the attack on al-Ma’jalah, the site of an alleged al-Qa’ida training camp in al-Mahfad district, Abyan Governorate.
Shortly after the attack some US media reported alleged statements by unnamed US government sources who said that US cruise missiles launched on presidential orders had been fired at two alleged al-Qa’ida sites in Yemen.
“Based on the evidence provided by these photographs, the US government must disclose what role it played in the al-Ma’jalah attack, and all governments involved must show what steps they took to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries,” said Philip Luther.
The photographs enable the positive identification of damaged missile parts, which appear to be from the payload, mid-body, aft-body and propulsion sections of a BGM-109D Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile.
This type of missile, launched from a warship or submarine, is designed to carry a payload of 166 cluster submunitions (bomblets) which each explode into over 200 sharp steel fragments that can cause injuries up to 150m away. An incendiary material inside the bomblet also spreads fragments of burning zirconium designed to set fire to nearby flammable objects.
A further photograph, apparently taken within half an hour of the others, shows an unexploded BLU 97 A/B submunition itself, the type carried by BGM-109D missiles. These missiles are known to be held only by US forces and Yemeni armed forces are unlikely to be capable of using such a missile.
Amnesty International has requested information from the Pentagon about the involvement of US forces in the al-Ma’jalah attack, and what precautions may have been taken to minimize deaths and injuries, but has yet to receive a response.
“Amnesty International is gravely concerned by evidence that cluster munitions appear to have been used in Yemen, when most states around the world have committed to comprehensively ban these weapons,” said Mike Lewis, Amnesty International’s arms control researcher.
“Cluster munitions have indiscriminate effects and unexploded bomblets threaten lives and livelihoods for years afterwards. All governments responsible for using them must urgently provide assistance to clear unexploded munitions.”
Neither the USA nor Yemen has yet signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a treaty designed to comprehensively ban such weapons which is due to enter into force on 1 August 2010.
A Yemeni parliamentary committee that investigated the 17 December 2009 attack reported in February that 41 people it described as civilians had been killed. In its report the committee said that on arrival at the scene of the attack in al-Ma’jalah it “found that all the homes and their contents were burnt and all that was left were traces of furniture.”
It said the committee “found traces of blood of the victims and a number of holes in the ground left by the bombingâ€¦ as well as a number of unexploded bombs,” and that one survivor told the committee that his family, who were killed although they had committed no crime, were sleeping when the missiles struck on the morning of 17 December 2009.
In its report, the Yemeni parliamentary committee said the Yemeni government should open a judicial investigation into the attack and bring to justice those responsible for the killings of civilians, but no such investigation is known to have been held as yet.
The committee reported statements by the Abyan Governorate authorities that 14 alleged members of al-Qa’ida were also killed in the attack, but said it had been unable to obtain information confirming this and was able to obtain the name of only one of the 14 from the Abyan authorities.
US Didn’t Fire Missiles in Strike against
al-Qaida; Deputy Commander Killed
WASHINGTON (December 21, 2009) — A military strike on al-Qaida’s network in Yemen killed the deputy commander of the terrorist network’s cell in Abyan province, the Yemeni government said.
Embassy spokesman Mohammed Albasha identified the dead man as Mohammed Al Kazimi, but said suspected al-Qaida leader Qasim al-Raymi, the intended target of this week’s raid, escaped.
Al-Raymi is one of 23 militants who broke out of a prison in San’a in February 2006 and is at large. Yemeni authorities have said they believe he was involved in the July 2007 suicide bombing that killed eight Spanish tourists and two Yemenis visiting a temple in central Yemen.
Christopher Boucek, a Yemen expert at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said al-Raymi is deputy commander of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and has managed to escape several previous attempts by authorities to get him.
The US provided firepower and other aid to Yemen for the strike this week against suspected al-Qaida hide-outs and training sites within its borders, according to a New York Times report.
President Barack Obama approved the military and intelligence support, which came at the request of the Yemeni government. It was intended to help stem growing attacks against American and other foreign targets in Yemen, the newspaper said.
Albasha denied the U.S. launched missiles in the attack.
Officials said at least 34 militants were killed in the Yemeni strike on Thursday in what was an unusually heavy assault as the Obama administration presses the unstable country for tougher action against al-Qaida.
Witnesses put the number killed at over 60 and said the dead were mostly civilians, including women and children. They denied the target was an al-Qaida stronghold, and one provincial official said only 10 militant suspects died.
The United States has called on Yemen to take stronger action against al-Qaida, whose fighters have increasingly found refuge in the country in the past year. Worries over the growing presence are compounded by fears that Yemen could collapse into turmoil from its multiple conflicts and increasing poverty and become another Afghanistan, giving the militants even freer rein.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.