Drone strikes must end, Yemen's parliament says

9:16 PM, Dec 15, 2013   |    comments
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Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Yemen's parliament Sunday called for an end to drone strikes on its territory after a U.S. missile attack mistakenly struck a wedding convoy, killing more than a dozen people.

The nearly unanimous but non-binding vote was "a strong warning" to both the United States and the government of Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a Yemeni government official told CNN.

"The Yemeni public is angered by the drone strikes," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to talk to reporters. "The people's representatives reflected on the tone of the streets."

That anger was further stoked last week after what Yemeni security officials said was a U.S. attack in southwestern Yemen last week. Intelligence reports had identified the targeted convoy as carrying al Qaeda militants, but the passengers were actually members of a wedding party, the officials said.

The officials said that 14 people were killed and 22 others wounded, nine critically. U.S. officials declined to comment on the report.

The attacks are part of a joint U.S.-Yemeni campaign against al Qaeda, and Yemen's government is unlikely to approve any measure that would limit the use of unmanned aircraft, the government official said.

"Yemen's air force and troops can't carry out missions in remote areas. Drones have had success in targeting small number of militants," the official said.

The highest-profile target of that campaign was Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim scholar and cleric who acted as a spokesman for the Yemeni-based branch of al Qaeda. Al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in September 2011.

But the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch reported in October that at least 57 civilians had also been killed by missiles fired from the unmanned aircraft. And some Yemeni security experts argue that drone strikes have aided al Qaeda by turning peaceful tribal communities into vengeful killers.

Drones also have been used extensively against al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan. Lawmakers there have objected strenuously to the attacks, but former President Pervez Musharrafacknowledged in April that his government secretly signed off on some strikes inside his country.

CNN Correspondent Mohammed Jamjoom contributed to this report.

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