— File photo
SANAA: Yemen's parliament passed on Sunday a law banning drone strikes, Saba news agency said, days after one such attack reportedly hit a wedding motorcade and killed civilians.
“Lawmakers have voted to ban drone strikes in Yemen,” Saba reported after a parliamentary meeting. The US military operates all unmanned aircraft flying over Yemen in support of Sana's campaign against Al Qaeda, and has killed dozens of militants in an intensified campaign this year.
Saba said lawmakers Sunday stressed “the importance of protecting all citizens from any aggression” and “the importance of preserving the sovereignty of Yemeni air space.”
On Thursday a drone attack in Rada, in the central province of Bayda, killed 17 people, mostly civilians, in a wedding motorcade, triggering protests in the impoverished Arabian peninsula country.
The Supreme Security Committee, headed by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, issued a statement on Friday insisting that the strike had targeted a car belonging to a leader of Al Qaeda.
In the car “were top leaders who plotted several terrorist attacks against the armed forces, police, civilians and vital government installations,” it said.
The statement did not give a death toll for the strike, nor refer to any civilian casualties or acknowledge that the attack was launched by a US drone.
Security sources and witnesses said two missiles were fired, and that mostly civilians had died.
Amnesty International said confusion over who was behind the raid “exposes a serious lack of accountability for scores of civilian deaths in the country.”
Relatives of the dead blocked roads to protest the killings and demanded an official apology as well as compensation.
“If the government fails to stop American planes from... bombing the people of Yemen, then it has no rule over us,” tribal chief Ahmad al-Salmani told AFP on Saturday.