At least 15 people are dead and five more were injured after an apparent U.S. drone strike missed its target and struck a wedding convoy in Yemen, according to reports from local officials.
Reuters cites officials who said an airstrike hit the convoy of roughly 15 people on their way to a wedding in the central al-Bayda province of Yemen. The intended target was a convoy of vehicles containing al-Qaida operatives, the officials said. Tribal sources said the attack came from a drone.
A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the reports, or confirm that a strike took place. A spokesman at the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, D.C., says his government is aware of the reports and is investigating the incident. He declined to provide any further information.
Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International said U.S. silence about reported strikes such as Thursday's is unacceptable.
"Instead of hiding behind secrecy, the U.S. needs to acknowledge and immediately commit to investigating all credible reports of potentially unlawful killings," said Steven Hawkins, Amnesty International's executive director.
Yemen has increasingly become a target for U.S. counterterrorism initiatives, and President Barack Obama has cited the country as a hot spot for activity from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
U.S. drone strikes in Yemen jumped from 10 in 2011 to 42 in 2012, according to the Long War Journal, which tracks such numbers. There have been 24 strikes in Yemen so far this year.
U.S. military personnel evacuated staffers at the U.S. embassy in Sana'a this summer amid a worldwide terrorism scare that prompted the closure of dozens of diplomatic facilities. That threat of an attack in August followed a successful U.S. drone strike that killed four suspected al-Qaida operatives.
Update 12/13/2013: This article was updated to reflect new information.