Luke Somers and Pierre Korkie killed during Yemen rescue bid
Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie have been killed by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen during a failed rescue bid.
The military operation on December 6 was carried out by joint US and Yemeni special forces in the southern, Shabwa region.
President Barack Obama condemned Luke Somers’s death as a “barbaric murder”
They were being held by militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by the US as one of the deadliest offshoots of al-Qaeda.
The group is based in eastern Yemen and has built up support amid the unrest which has beset the impoverished country since the overthrow of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.
President Barack Obama said he authorized the raid to rescue the UK-born American photojournalist and other hostages held in the same location.
He said information had “indicated that Luke’s life was in imminent danger.”
A number of militants were also killed in the operation.
“Terrorists who seek to harm our citizens will feel the long arm of American justice,” Barack Obama said.
A US official told the New York Times that Luke Somers was apparently shot by his captors as the raid unfolded and was badly wounded when the US forces reached him.
By the time he was flown to a US naval ship in the region, he had died from his injuries, the official was quoted as saying.
Luke Somers’ sister, Lucy Somers, told the Associated Press earlier that she had been notified by the FBI of his death.
“We ask that all of Luke’s family members be allowed to mourn in peace,” Lucy Somers told AP, speaking from London.
Meanwhile there are reports that Pierre Korkie was expected to be released on December 7.
Pierre Korkie was abducted with his wife Yolande in May 2013 in Yemen’s second city, Taiz.
Yolande Korkie was freed on January 2014 without ransom and returned to South Africa.
Luke Somers, 33, was kidnapped in Yemen in September 2013.
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