SANAA, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. drone strike mistakenly hit a wedding party in Yemen's southeastern province of al-Bayda on Thursday evening, killing up to 11 Yemenis and wounding about 21, officials told Xinhua.
"About 11 people were killed and 12 others seriously wounded after a U.S. drone missile hit the participants in the wedding party in Yakla area of Qayfa district in al-Bayda province," the officials said anonymously.
"Anohter nine people were slightly injured... all the killed and injured are civilians in a village," one of the security official told Xinhua by phone.
Tribal sources in the area confirmed the casualties. The U.S. embassy in Sanaa did not comment yet on the incident.
It was the second airstrike in a week after a U.S. drone killed at least four people travelling on a road in the eastern province of Hadramout on Monday.
Washington has escalated its drone strikes on the al-Qaida network in Yemen since Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February 2012 after a UN-backed power transfer deal eased former President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot frequently attack the institutions of the Yemeni government and embassies of Western countries, as well as assassinate army officers. On Dec. 5, 12 al- Qaida militants attacked the Yemeni defense ministry, which left 56 people killed and more than 200 injured.
However, the U.S. drone strikes have mistakenly hit civilian targets for several times in the past two years. The human rights groups in Yemen repeatedly accused the United States of breaking international law and perhaps committing war crimes by killing civilians in missile and drone strikes that were intended to hit militants.
The nongovernmental groups said during an attack on Sept. 2, 2012, the U.S. drone hit a passenger van and killed 12 people returning from the market in Yemen's southern regions.
Similarly, on Dec. 17, 2009, an attack by as many as five U.S. Navy cruise missiles struck a Yemeni hamlet, killing what the Yemeni government initially described as 34 "terrorists" at a training camp.
However, the human rights groups said a Yemeni government inquiry later established that although 14 fighters of the al- Qaida group were killed in the attack, so were at least 41 civilians, including nine women and 21 children.
The Yemeni people have staged several rallies this year, demanding an end to the U.S. drone strike in the country.