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Yemen tribe intensifies protest against drone attacks

National Yemen

Yemen tribe intensifies protest against drone attacks

SANAA Angry relatives of Yemeni civilians killed in a drone strike, which Sanaa insists hit Al Qaeda chiefs, escalated their protest on Saturday, blocking a main road and demanding end to US raids.

The Supreme Security Committee said a Thursday air strike that killed 17 people, mostly civilians, near Rada in the central province of Bayda, had targeted Al Qaeda.

“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 said from Rada.

He spoke as hundreds of armed men from the large Qayfah tribe blocked the Rada-Sanaa road linking several southern areas to the capital, witnesses said.

Protesters also blocked the road on Friday during the funeral of 13 relatives and agreed to reopen it only after tribal chiefs promised to mediate.

The mediation committee was said to have travelled on Saturday to Sanaa to present the tribe’s demands, a local official said.

“The first demand is an end to strikes. They also want financial and moral compensation,” the official said.

The committee later met the regional military command in Rada, another official said.

“They are discussing solutions to be presented to the families of civilian casualties,” the official said, adding that tribal arbitration, which would stipulate compensation, was the probable outcome.

“We have set a deadline for mediators to come back with a response from the authorities,” Salmani said.

The security committee headed by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi said on Thursday’s strike targeted “a car that belonged to one of the leaders of Al Qaeda”. A statement carried by the state news agency Saba did not give a death toll for the strike, mention any civilian casualties or admit that it was a US drone attack.