In Sanaa, Yemen, an American photojournalist and a South African teacher held by al-Qaida militants have been killed in a failed U.S. rescue attempt, authorities said Saturday. President Barack Obama stated that U.S. military attempted to rescue the hostages.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement he ordered the raid that saw Luke Somers and Pierre Korkie killed, after al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula posted a video online Thursday threatening to kill Somers.
“…indicated that Luke’s life was in imminent danger. Based on this assessment, and as soon as there was reliable intelligence and an operational plan, I authorized a rescue attempt…. I also authorized the rescue of any other hostages held in the same location as Luke.”
Lucy Somers, the photojournalist’s sister, told the Associated Press that she and her father learned of her 33-year-old brother’s death from FBI agents at 0500 GMT (12 a.m. EST) Saturday, and gave a statement from London.
“We ask that all of Luke’s family members be allowed to mourn in peace.”
Yemen’s local al-Qaida branch, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, posted a video Thursday that showed the American photojournalist Somers. The kidnappers threatened to kill him in three days if the United States didn’t meet the group’s demands, which weren’t specified. He was kidnapped in September 2013 from Sanaa.
Yemen’s national security chief, Maj. Gen. Ali al-Ahmadi, said the militants planned to kill Luke Somers on Saturday.
“Al-Qaida promised to conduct the execution (of Somers) today so there was an attempt to save them but unfortunately they shot the hostage before or during the attack. He was freed but unfortunately he was dead.”
American authorities rarely discuss their drone strike campaign in Yemen. The strikes are despised by many in Yemen due to civilian casualties, legitimizing for many the attacks on American interests. At least six suspected militants were killed in an airstrike in the same province last month. President Barack Obama condemned the killing of British-born U.S. citizen Somers as “barbaric.”
Friday’s operation took place in Shabwa province, a Yemen interior ministry official told NBC News, adding that 10 militants were also killed. It came two days after the Pentagon acknowledged an earlier U.S. commando mission to rescue Somers had also failed. Teacher and photographer Somers was abducted a year ago in Sanaa, where he had been working as a freelance photographer for the Yemen Times.
President Barack Obama condemned the killings on Saturday.
The United States strongly condemns the barbaric murder of Luke Somers at the hands of al Qaeda terrorists during a rescue operation conducted by U.S. forces in Yemen in partnership with the Yemeni government. On behalf of the American people, I offer my deepest condolences to Luke’s family and to his loved ones.”
[Photo Credit to Yahoo News]