[A-List] US used cluster bombs on Yemen civilians: Amnesty
tal1 at cogeco.ca
Wed Jun 9 20:01:29 MDT 2010
US used cluster bombs on Yemen civilians: Amnesty
Published: Sunday June 6, 2010
A US cruise missile carrying cluster bombs was behind a December attack in
Yemen that killed 55 people, most of them civilians, Amnesty International
(AI) said on Monday.
The London-based rights group released photographs that it said showed the
remains of a US-made Tomahawk missile and unexploded cluster bombs that were
apparently used in the December 17, 2009 attack on the rural community of
Al-Maajala in Yemen's southern Abyan province.
"Amnesty International is gravely concerned by evidence that cluster
munitions appear to have been used in Yemen," said Mike Lewis, the group's
arms control researcher.
"Cluster munitions have indiscriminate effects and unexploded bomblets
threaten lives and livelihoods for years afterwards," he said.
"A military strike of this kind against alleged militants without an attempt
to detain them is at the very least unlawful," said Philip Luther, deputy
director of AI's Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Yemen's defence ministry had claimed responsibility for the attack without
mentioning a US role, saying between 24 and 30 militants had been killed at
an alleged Al-Qaeda training camp.
But a local official said 49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women,
were killed "indiscriminately."
AI said that a Yemeni parliamentary committee reported in February that in
addition to 14 alleged Al-Qaeda militants, 41 local residents, including 14
women and 21 children, were killed in the attack.
"The fact that so many of the victims were actually women and children
indicates that the attack was in fact grossly irresponsible, particularly
given the likely use of cluster munitions," Luther said.
AI said photographs it had obtained showed damaged remains of the BGM-109D
Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile.
"This type of missile, launched from a warship or submarine, is designed to
carry a payload of 166 cluster sub-munitions (bomblets) which each explode
into over 200 sharp steel fragments that can cause injuries up to 150 metres
(about 500 feet) away," an AI statement said.
"An incendiary material inside the bomblet also spreads fragments of burning
zirconium designed to set fire to nearby flammable objects," it said.
The Yemen parliamentary committee had said when it visited the site that
"all the homes and their contents were burnt and all that was left were
traces of furniture," AI said.
AI said it had requested information about the attack from the Pentagon, but
had not yet received a response.
Amnesty said it had obtained the photographs from its own sources, but had
not released them earlier in order to ascertain their authenticity and give
the United States time to respond.
The United States and Yemen have not yet signed the Convention on Cluster
Munitions, a treaty designed to comprehensively ban such weapons which is
due to enter into force on 1 August, 2010.
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