Al-Qaeda apologizes for Yemen hospital attack


A militant suspected of being a member of Al-Qaeda sits at a checkpoint in Azan in the southern Yemeni province of Shabwa.



Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has offered a rare apology in a video message for an attack on a hospital in Yemen earlier this month.

Leader Qassim al-Raimi said the attackers were told not to target the hospital and mosque in an attack on a Yemeni Ministry of Defense compound in Sanaa on Dec. 5, and that one attacker made a mistake in targeting the hospital.

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"We confess to this mistake and fault. We offer our apologies and condolences to the families of the victims," Raimi said in the video, which was published by Al-Qaeda media outlet Al-Malahim. "We did not want your lost ones; we did not target them on purpose. This is not of our religion or our morals."

Some 52 people were left dead in the attack, including seven medics from Germany, India, the Philippines and Vietnam. Several other doctors, nurses and patients in hospital were also among the dead, although AQAP said its intended targets were rooms where US drones were allegedly being operated.

Despite the apology, Raimi vowed that attacks against authorities in Yemen would continue.

He did, however, say that AQAP accepts "full responsibility" for the attack and that the organization would pay blood money to compensate the families of the victims, as well as medical treatment for civilians wounded in the hospital attack.

AQAP is considered by the US to be the most dangerous affiliate of Al-Qaeda. Washington-based think-tank New America Foundation said there have been 93 drone strikes in Yemen since 2002, killing between 684 and 891 people, including 64 to 66 civilians.