published Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Yemen: Drone kills alleged tanker attacker

SANAA, Yemen — A U.S. drone strike Sunday killed a top al-Qaida militant wanted for allegedly masterminding a 2002 attack on a French oil tanker, Yemeni military officials said.

In a separate incident, Yemeni warplanes killed 14 civilians in an errant airstrike, officials said.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement on that Khaled Batis, wanted in connection with the attack on the Limburg off the coast of Yemen that killed one person, was among five militants riding a vehicle struck by a drone Friday in the southern city of Hadramawt.

Military officials said the drone was American.

The U.S. frequently targets militants in Yemen with drone strikes and also advises the country’s ground forces, though it rarely acknowledges its role.

In the other incident Sunday, Yemeni fighter planes mistakenly hit vehicles carrying civilians traveling south of the capital, killing 14.

Military officials said the airstrikes in Radda in the province of Bayda were based on faulty intelligence that the passengers were al-Qaida members. Missiles fired from the warplanes hit two vehicles carrying local residents returning to their villages.

Tribesman Sheik Ahmed Ali said the dead included three women and three children.

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