(Adds comments from U.S. official, paragraphs 5-6)
SANAA Dec 12 Fifteen people on their way to a
wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party
was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials
said on Thursday.
The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in
central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources
said that it was a drone.
"An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car
convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who
were injured died after being admitted to the hospital," one
security official said.
Five more people were injured, the officials said.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
acknowledged media reports about members of a wedding party
getting killed in a counterterrorism strike.
"We have no information that corroborates these reports,"
the official said, without elaborating.
The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a
campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),
regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant
Yemen, AQAP's main stronghold, is among a handful of
countries where the United States acknowledges using drones,
although it does not comment on the practice.
Human Rights Watch said in a detailed report in August that
U.S. missile strikes, including armed attacks, have killed
dozens of civilians in Yemen.
Stabilising the country, which is also struggling with
southern separatists and northern rebels, is an international
priority due to fears of disorder in a state that flanks top oil
producer Saudi Arabia and major shipping lanes.
On Monday, missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed at least
three people travelling in a car in eastern
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Additional reporting by Phil
Stewart in Washington; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Mohammad