US hostage killed in failed rescue

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 06 Desember 2014 | 20.01

A man and woman who identify themselves as the family of Luke Somers have released a video on social media pleading to Al Qaeda in Yemen for his safe release. Rough Cut (No Reporter Narration)

AN American photojournalist held by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen has been killed in a failed rescue attempt.

Lucy Somers told The Associated Press that she learned of her 33-year-old brother Luke Somers' death from FBI agents.

There was no immediate comment from Washington, nor from security officials in Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

"We ask that all of Luke's family members be allowed to mourn in peace," Lucy Somers said.

Yemen's local al-Qaeda branch, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, posted a video Thursday that showed Sommers, threatening 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.

US Defense Secretary Hagel later confirmed Luke was "murdered" by the terrorists in Yemen.

FAMILY BEGS: 'Let Luke go, we don't know why he's being held'

Luke Somers, an American photojournalist born in Britain and held hostage by al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen. The Pentagon says a hostage rescue mission last month in Yemen failed to liberate American Somers because he was not present at the targeted location. Picture: AP/Militant Video Source: AP

A South African hostage was also killed during the failed raid to free them.

"We received with sadness the news that Pierre (Korkie) was killed in an attempt by American Special Forces, in the early hours of this morning, to free hostages in Yemen," said the Gift of the Givers group, which has been negotiating his release.

"The psychological and emotional devastation to (his wife) Yolande and her family will be compounded by the knowledge that Pierre was to be released by Al Qaeda tomorrow," it said.

The news of the failed rescue comes after a suspected US drone strike in Yemen killed nine alleged al-Qaeda militants today, a security official said.

The drone struck at dawn in Yemen's southern Shabwa province, hitting a suspected militant hide-out, the official said. The official did not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorised to brief journalists.

At least six suspected militants were killed in an air strike in the same province last month. Today, tribal leaders said they saw helicopters flying over an area called Wadi Abdan in Shabwa province.

Making threats ... Nasser bin Ali Al-Ansi, of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, reading a message threatening to kill US hostage Luke Somers. Picture: AFP/Militant Video Source: AFP

American authorities rarely discuss their drone strike campaign in Yemen. The strikes are incredibly unpopular in Yemen due to civilian casualties, legitimising for many the attacks on American interests.

In an online video released, Lucy Somers described her older brother as a romantic who "always believes the best in people." She ended with the plea: "Please let him live."

In a statement, Somers' father, Michael, also called his son "a good friend of Yemen and the Yemeni people" and asked for his safe release.

Sadly lost ... Luke Somers, who was being held as a hostage. Picture: Supplied Source: Twitter

In a statement Thursday, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby acknowledged for the first time that a mysterious U.S. raid last month had sought to rescue Somers but that he turned out not to be at the site.

The U.S. considers Yemen's al-Qaeda branch to be the world's most dangerous arm of the group as it has been linked to several failed attacks on the U.S. homeland.

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