American hostage held in Yemen killed during rescue attempt
A joint US-Yemen effort to rescue US journalist Luke Sommers failed when Al-Qeada in the Arabian Peninnsula terrorists apparently tried to execute him as the rescue force attacked. A South African national, Pierre Korkie, also died in the rescue mission.
Sommers was found badly wounded and helicoptered to a Navy ship in the Gulf. He died of his wounds en route.
This was the second effort to rescue Sommers. An effort last month failed when rescuers failed to find Sommers where they thought he was being held.
Numerous AQAP terrorists holding the hostages captive were killed in the mission.
President Obama released a statement early Saturday morning condemning the "barbaric murder" of Somers by the Al Qaeda terrorists.
Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry all expressed their condolences to Somers' family.
The sister of Luke Somers first learned of her brother's death from FBI agents. Lucy Somers told the Associated Press her family asks for peace.
Yemen's local Al Qaeda branch, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, posted a video Thursday that showed Somers, threatening to kill him in three days if the United States didn't meet the group's demands, which weren't specified.
The rescue attempt took place in central Yemen and was conducted with the Yemen government, Hagel said in a statement
The news of the failed rescue comes after a suspected U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed nine alleged Al Qaeda militants early Saturday, a security official said. The drone struck at dawn in Yemen's southern Shabwa province, hitting a suspected militant hideout, the official said. The official did not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief journalists.
At least six suspected militants were killed in an airstrike in the same province last month. Later Saturday, tribal leaders said they saw helicopters flying over an area called Wadi Abdan in Shabwa province.
In a video Saturday, Lucy Somers and her father pleaded for the group to let Luke Somers live.
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.
Somers was kidnapped in 2013 leaving a supermarket in Yemen. He was working as a freelance photographer for the Yemen Times at the time.
A rescue mission was realistically Sommers only chance, as AQAP never specified what their demands were. They would very likely have been unacceptable anyway.
No word on casualties among our special operators, but we probably wouldn't hear about it if there were any.
CNN is reporting that the South African hostage was to be freed on Sunday:
During the raid, the militants with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also killed South African hostage Pierre Korkie, according to his employer, the relief group Gift of the Givers.
Korkie was to be released on Sunday, the group said in a statement.
He and his wife Yolande had fallen into the hands of abductors in May of last year, but they subsequently let her go. On Friday, a team of local leaders was finalizing arrangements to reunite Pierre Korkie to his wife and children, the statement reads.
Gift of the Givers recently told his wife that "the wait is almost over."
"Three days ago we told her 'Pierre will be home for Christmas,'" the group said. "We certainly did not mean it in the manner it has unfolded."
I would take the news that Korkie was to be released by Christmas with a grain of salt. We've seen negotiations for the release of hostages get to this point a dozen times over the last few years, only to see the terrorists cruelly withdraw their offer.