A little more than a week after a U.S. drone strike killed innocent civilians from a wedding convoy in Yemen, more eyebrow-raising details have emerged surrounding the compensation practices for the victims' relatives.
The New York Times reported Friday that Kalashnikov rifles are part of the traditional compensation process in Yemen, and 101 were given out to relatives of those lost in the Dec. 12 strike. According to the AP, the blast killed at least 13 people, with the Times citing six innocent victims.
From the newspaper's Dec. 20 report:
At first, the Yemeni government, a close partner with the Obama administration on counterterrorism matters, said that all the dead were militants. But Yemeni officials conceded soon afterward that some civilians had been killed, and they gave 101 Kalashnikov rifles and about 24 million Yemeni riyals (about $110,000) to relatives of the victims as part of a traditional compensation process, a local tribal leader said.
The fallout from the Dec. 12 strike comes less than two months after human rights investigators called for greater U.S. transparency with its drone program. Human Rights Watch alleged that 82 people, at least 57 of them civilians, were killed by drone strikes in Yemen between September 2012 and June 2013.
The Obama administration defended its practices in light of that report, with Press Secretary Jay Carney saying in October there must be "near-certainty" of no civilian casualties before the U.S. proceeds with a drone strike.
"U.S. counterterrorism operations are precise, they are lawful and they are effective," Carney said.