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INVESTIGATIONS

Two journalists and five civlians killed in Al-Khayami, in the southern countryside of Taiz Governorate.

October 6, 2021

Al-Khayami area, Al-Maafer District, in the southern countryside of Taiz Governorate.

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Incident Summary

  • Location: Al-Khayami area, Al-Maafer District, in the southern countryside of Taiz Governorate.
  • Impact site: The Technical Industrial Institute, where a military parade was held, and civilian homes in the Khayami area.
  • Date: January 22, 2018
  • Time: Between 11:00 and 12:25 local time
  • Casualties: 5 civilians were killed, including a journalist, a child and a woman whose identities were confirmed by the Yemeni Archive. 18 civilians wounded, including a journalist, women and children. The identities of 15 wounded were confirmed by matching the available sources by the investigation team.
  • Type of attack: missile attack
  • Possible munitions: “Qaher-M2” ballistic missile - BM 21 Grad missiles
  • Potential responsibility: “Ansar Allah” group, “Houthis”.

Introduction

On 22 January 2018, journalist Muhammad al-Qudsi was killed, and journalist Bashir Aqlan was wounded in a multiple missile attack on al-Khayami area in the countryside of Taiz governorate. The attack impacted the location of a military parade in the area, after government officials and military forces departed. Civilian houses in nearby villages were also impacted. 5 people were killed, and 18 others were wounded.

About the area

Al-Khayami area is located in Al-Maafer District in the southern countryside of Taiz, along the only road linking Taiz with Aden, and about 10 km west of Al-Kadha area. It was the closest point of clash between the Yemeni government forces and the forces of “Ansar Allah Houthi” forces, at the time of the attack on 22 January 2018 to March 2021. The government forces launched previously a military attack that led to control of Al-Kadha and the surrounding areas. Al-Khayami area and its Industrial Technical Institute constitute a vital center in Al-Maafer District. As the fighting arrived to the southern countryside of Taiz, the Institute was used as a military site by the government forces, and then as a headquarters for the security forces, specifically the “Special Forces”, which held a graduation ceremony for one of the security forces batches, attended by government officials and high-ranking security officers, including the Deputy Minister of Interior, on the same day of the attack.

khayami 1 A satellite image from Google Maps

Incident and time

On 22 January 2018, reports on social media and local news websites stated that there were military and civilian casualties, including two journalists, as a result of multiple bombings in Al-Khayami area, south of Taiz. The first report on the bombing was published by Belqees TV’s Facebook page, at 11:53, which included that civilians were killed and wounded, Then news broke that the TV cameraman, Muhammad al-Qudsi, had been wounded by another bombing in the same area, and that he died short time later succumbed to his wounds.

khayami 2 A screenshot of a tweet by journalist Ahmed ALZurqa, about the injury of Muhammad Al-Qudsi, cameraman for Belqees TV

khayami 3 A screenshot of Belqees TV’s Facebook post, about the death of the TV cameraman, Muhammad al-Qudsi.

According to the available sources, the bombing hit the villages of Al-Khayami in conjunction with a military parade held for the graduation ceremony of a batch of soldiers from the Yemeni government’s special forces. The parade was attended by government officials and security leaders who left as soon as they heard the first explosion, before a missile landed next to the camp gate, causing deaths and injuries, including Russia Today TV correspondent Basheer Aqlan.

khayami 4 A screenshot of Mohamed Marsh’s Facebook post, who was at the attack site. His car was damaged.

After the attack, photos were published by Ahmed Al-Basha and Fawzi Al-Mansri showing the smoke of the explosion in two different locations near the parade site and the nearby village, confirming the multiple attacks. TV channels, as well as locals, published visual content of the aftermath of the attack, which required verification of its authenticity and relevance to the incident.

khayami 5 Photos published by Ahmed Al-Basha and Fawzi Al-Mansri on Facebook

Visual Content Verification

To prove relevance and matching, the Yemeni Archive collected open-source visual content (photos - videos) related to the attack from Belqees TV, Al Jazeera Mubasher, and Yemen Shabab. As well as content posted by social users: Muhammad Marsh, Ahmad Al-Basha, Abdullah Abdul-Muti, Fawzi Al-Mansri, Ahmad Hazaa, and Al-Massa Press,

Photos of the attack aftermath in the camp and the surrounding villages

Pictures from Ahmed Al-Basha, Fawzi Al-Mansri on Facebook, a screenshot from the video of Belqees TV

Close photos from the village

khayami 7 Screenshots from videos by Belqees TV video, and Al-Jazeera Mubashar from inside the village, showing the matching of the landmarks in the village from the first direction

Screenshots from Al Jazeera Mubasher and Yemen Shabab, showing the matching of the landmarks in the village from the other direction.

Close shots to the camp’s surroundings

Matching photos of Mohamed Marsh’s Facebook, with screenshots from Al Jazeera Mubashar video in the vicinity of the camp

khayami 10 Screenshots from Al Jazeera Mubashar of Industrial Technical Institute before the attack, and from Yemen Shabab TV’s video before the attack.

The landmarks in the distant scenes match the close scenes of the aftermath of the attack on the camp and the nearby villages at the moment of the attack and after it. It is also possible to rely on other sources with identical evidence in determining the exact geographical location of the attack by analysing a sample from the visual content of the two sites and comparing them.

Geographical location

The Yemeni Archive was able to locate the camp in Al-Khayami area, south of Taiz, near the main road at coordinates: 13.339485, 43.957300, that was the Industrial Technical Institute. It is confirmed that the site matches the coordinates by identifying the landmarks and visual evidence that appeared in Muhammad Marsh’s Facebook photos, Belqees TV videos, Yemen Shabab and Al Jazeera Mubasher from two different directions to the attack site, and comparing them with satellite images.

Screenshots from of Belqees TV, Yemen Shabab, and Al Jazeera Mubasher

Screenshots from Al Jazeera Mubasher, and a photo from Mohamed Marsh’s Facebook account

khayami 14 A satellite image shows the Industrial Technical Institute in Al Khayami area.

Images of smoke rising from a high area after the attack, after matching the mountains to the satellite images according to the feature (view from the surface of the earth), show that the village is to the right of the camp.

khayami 15 Photos from Fawzi Al-Mansri and Ahmed Al-Basha’s Facebook accounts, and a satellite image

The visual content inside the village shows a mosque with two minarets as a distinctive landmark near the location of the projectile in the area to the right of the Institute. By comparing it with satellite images, we can identify the village that was impacted at coordinates: 13.333623, 43.955465, approximately 700 meters from the Institute.

Screenshots from Al Jazeera Mubasher’s video from inside the village.

khayami 17 A satellite image of the mosque’s location, which appeared in the documented visual content inside the village after the bombing

khayami 18 The distance between the institute and the village using Google Earth measurement tool

Bombing time

According to open-source information, the attack took multiple times in successive periods, especially on the village, which makes determining the time of each projectile a difficult process, given the lack of visual content that can be analysed in only two cases, one of which is on the village and the other on the camp. As well as the chronological nature of social media reports, as most of the news spread after Belqees TV’s report at 11:53 am, most likely after the first attack.

khayami 19 Analysis of the timestamp of Belqees TV’s Facebook post, via 4webhelp

To determine the time scale of the successive attacks via Shadow Calculator, we relied on analysing the path of the sun in the visual content with the same date of the attack on 22 January 2018.

Yemen Shabab TV published a video of the military parade in Al Khayami area on the day of the attack. By analysing the length of the soldier’s shadow compared to his actual height, we find that the shadow is slightly shorter and is clearly tilted. The length of the shadow and the inclination coincide in the Shadow Calculator at 10:23 am, which means that, until that moment, there was no attack on the area.

Screenshots from Shadow Calculator and Yemen Shabab TV video of the military parade

In a telephone interview on Belqees TV, journalist Fawaz al-Hammadi recounts the details of the death of the cameraman, Muhammad al-Qudsi, who was with him. He said that “the missile attack initially hit the village, and there were reports of civilian casualties”, which prompted them to go to the site to document the incident. This suggests that the first projectile fell in the village.

Another video by Belqees TV shows the shadow of a person near the body of a civilian victim inside the village. The shadow of the person is shorter than the shadow of the soldier in the previous photo, with the same tilt. Analysis of this data through the previous tool indicates that the approximate time of video capture was at 11:18 am.

A screenshot from Belqees TV video from inside the village, and a screenshot of analysing the shadow of a person in the video

The analysis of the shadows using the previous method suggests that a projectile fell inside the camp at 12:23, close to news about the attack of the parade, which was published by Akram al-Shawafi on Twitter, at 12:25, and began with the word “now” indicating the time.

A Screenshot from Belqees TV inside the village, and a screenshot of analysing the tree’s shadow at the moment of the attack on the camp.

khayami 23 Akram al-Shawafi’s tweet about the attack on the ceremony held at the Institute.

According to the foregoing, it is possible to determine the approximate time range of the bombing operation, from the first explosion in the village to the last in the camp, between 11:00 and 12:25 on 22 January 2018. During that period the projectiles continued to fall, one of which hit the journalist Muhammad al-Qudsi, after coming to the village to document the aftermath of the first projectile, according to colleague in his phone interview on the Balqees TV.

Potential responsibility

The Ansar Allah website published a news report that a ballistic missile was launched at Al Khayami camp, and the Al Masirah TV, which is affiliated with the Houthis, published a video showing the launch of a ballistic missile of “Qaher 2M” type on Al Khayami camp in Taiz on the same date, which suggests the responsibility of Ansar Allah for the attack on the area that day.

khayami 24 A screenshot of Ansar Allah website news about targeting Al Khayami area with Qaher 2M ballistic missile

khayami 25 A screenshot from Al Masirah TV video

Possible munitions

Houthi media reported that a Qaher M2 ballistic missile was launched at Al Khayami camp in Taiz, and it is likely that it was the same missile that fell on the camp where the military parade was held. This is evidenced by the force of the explosion and the effect it had on the place, as shown by pictures published by Abdullah Abdul-Muti on his Facebook page. In addition, the visual content shows ammunition remnants of another type of projectile that fell inside the village.

khayami 26

A photo from Motabaat website of the “Qaher M2” ballistic missile, and a screenshot of the missile that was fired at Al Khayami area from Al Masirah TV report

A photo from Abdullah Abdel Muti’s Facebook account of the location of the missile strike

A video published by Al Jazeera Mubasher, and another video published by Yemen Shabab showed the remnants of the second type of ammunition used in attacking the village. The shape of the remaining metal structure is likely to be a Katyusha missile of the ”BM-21 Grad” type, which is widely available in Yemen.

Screenshots from Al Jazeera Mubasher and Yemen Shabab videos showing munitions remnants in the village

khayami 29 A photo of a BM 21 Grad missile from Arms and Ammunition Facebook account

The nature of the target sites

First site:

The reports did not mention the presence of any military activity in the village targeted by the attack, and the documented scenes after the attack show many civilians including women and children, which confirms the civilian nature of the place.

khayami 30 Screenshots from the videos of Belqees TV and Yemen Shabab shows the activity in the targeted village

Second site:

During the war, many civilian objects, such as universities and institutes, as well as schools, were turned into military barracks for the conflict forces in various Yemeni governorates. As the battles reached the southern countryside of Taiz, Yemeni government forces used the Industrial Technical Institute in Al-Khayami as a military site, in which the military parade was held.

A screenshot from Yemen Shabab TV’s video of the military parade at the Technical Institute in Al Khiami before the attack, a photo from Abdullah Abdul-Muti’s Facebook post of security forces at the Institute after the attack

The Victims:

There were reports of civilian deaths and injuries in the attack of the Technical Institute and Al Khayami village, including two journalists. The numbers of the victims in the open-source data varied, which necessitated checking the published names and matching them in most sources.

Alharf 28 News website: 8 people Killed: 3 soldiers and 5 civilians, including journalist Muhammad al-Qudsi, and 2 women. 18 people wounded: 5 soldiers, and 13 civilians, including journalist Basheer Aqlan, 6 women whose ages have not been specified.

Almushahid Net: 5 civilians killed, including journalist Muhammad al-Qudsi and two women. 15 civilians wounded, including journalist Basheer Aqlan, and 10 women whose ages have not been specified.

Taiz Network News: The Network provided the victims from the village only, the day after the attack. 4 people killed, including two women and a child. 17 people wounded, including 8 women and 8 children

Yemen Shabab: 5 civilians killed, including journalist Muhammad al-Qudsi, two women and a child. 15 civilians wounded, including journalist Basheer Aqlan, and 10 women whose ages have not been specified.

Matching names of civilian victims:

Killed:

Muhammad al-Qudsi - journalist (photographer for Belqees TV)

Ali Abdo Shamsan Al Qasimi, 63 years old

Faza’a Abja Muhammad Muqbil al-Baqeri, 62 years old (wife of Ali Abdo Shamsan)

Arwa Ahmed Ghaleb Ahmed Al-Azazi, 45 years old

Qusai Abdul-Latif Abdul-Jabbar Abdul-Jalil, 11 years old

Wounded:

Bashir Aqlan Al-Jabzi - journalist (correspondent for Russia Today)

Shaddad Zaid Ali Abdullah, 11 years old

Uday Abdul-Latif Abdul-Jabbar Al-Akadi, 12 years old

Jihan Abdel-Wahhab Abdel-Raqib Al-Akady, 16 years old

Rafaida Ahmed Abdel-Raqib Al-Akady, 16 years old

Rashaa Ali Abdul Raqeeb Al-Akadi, 16 years old

Afifa Farea Naji Al-Ardi, 25 years old

Nazira Abdo Mohammed, 25 years old

Rola Abdul Alim Abed Saif, 25 years old

Worod Abdul Azim Abdul Wahed Al-Akadi, 30 years old

Umm Kulthum Muhammad Abdul-Jabbar Al-Akkadi, 30 years old

Nashwa Abdul Qawi Abdul Raqeeb, 30 years old

Fatima Muhammad Ahmad Shamsan, 33 years old

Abdo Thabet Al Khufi, 42 years old

Atiqa Abdul-Jabbar Al-Akkadi, 45 years old

The names of the wounded that are mentioned in one source only:

Ahmed Abdullah Ali Allala, 12 years old

Halima Adel Hamoudi Al-Kharji, 15 years old

Fatima Muhammad Ali Al-Kabeer Al-Akadi, 17 years old

Conclusion

Through the detailed information above, the Yemeni Archive concluded that multiple bombings with a Qaher M2 ballistic missile and BM 21 Grad Katyushas were launched by Ansar Allah group (Houthis); on 22 January 2018, between 11:00 am and 12:25 pm. The missiles hit villages in Al-Khayami area and the Industrial Technical Institute, which was used by Yemeni government forces as a camp, in the southern countryside of Taiz governorate. The attack killed 5 civilians, including journalist Muhammad al-Qudsi, and wounded 15 civilians, including Journalist Basheer Aqlan.

The Yemeni Archive is fully independent and accepts no money from governments directly involved in the Yemeni conflict. We are seeking individual donations to carry out our work. Please consider supporting our work through our Patreon page.

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