American photojournalist Luke Somers who had been held hostage by militants belonging to the Al-Qaida group in Yemen was killed during a failed rescue attempt led by the U.S. commandos. This was a last minute effort to free Somers, as the three day deadline given by the extremist group to execute him was nearing. A South African teacher, Pierre Korkie, was also killed along with Somers.
Somers was born in Britain but was an American citizen and was working as a translator for the National Dialogue Conference when he was kidnapped last September. He was seen only last Wednesday in a video released by the AQAP in which he had said, “I’m looking for any help that can get me out of this situation,” he said. “I’m certain that my life is in danger. So as I sit here now, I ask if anything can be done, please let it be done. Thank you very much.”
33 year old Luke Somers as he looked in a video released by his hostages on Dec 3
The militants had earlier threatened to kill him in a video posted by them online. The President Barack Obama said he had ordered the SEALs to storm the militants’ hideout and try to get out Somers safely after he had been warned of ‘imminent danger’ to his life.
“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,” Obama said. “Earlier this week, a video released by his terrorist captors announced that Luke would be killed within 72 hours. Other information also indicated 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 yesterday. On behalf of the American people, I offer my deepest condolences to Luke’s family and to his loved ones,” the President said.
The 33 year old American was killed by his captors after the American government made this second attempt to rescue him. They had first tried to do so on Nov 25. Though Somers could not be located by the SEALs, they had managed to free eight hostages belonging to Yemen, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia that night.
He was first thought to be one of the two Caucasian captives wounded but rescued by the commandos. But soon the intelligence agencies reported that “Somers and the other hostage had died of gunshot wounds from their captors, who shot them as operators from the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six bore down on the hostage site and killed AQAP fighters holding the freelance photojournalist,” the counter-terrorism official told ABC News.
Only last night, Somers’ sister had pleaded to the militants to release her brother in a video posted online by the family. “I am Lucy Somers, Luke Somers is my older brother. Luke is a gentle and sensitive person, he is a romantic and always believes the best in people,” she said. “I have been comforted by all the messages of love and support from the Yemeni people. And I would like to add my voice to theirs in asking for mercy. Your way of life is what Luke loved. Please let him live.”
Earlier last week, Luke’s mother had also appealed the AQAP to release him saying, “He is all we have.” She had also assured her son that the family was doing all they possibly could to secure a safe passage for him.