American citizen Luke Somers had been held hostage since September 2013 in Yemen’s capital Sana’a having moved to the country two years earlier. Somers, a teacher and photographer, had been abducted a year ago in Sanaa where he had been working as a freelance photographer for the Yemen Times.
Friday’s operation took place in Shabwa province, a Yemen interior ministry official told NBC News, adding that several militants were also killed.
The attempted rescue came two days after the Pentagon acknowledged an earlier U.S. commando mission to rescue Somers had also failed. Al Qaeda posted a video that showed Somers and a local militant commander threatening that the hostage would meet his fate in three days if the U.S. didn’t meet the group’s demands.
The 33-year-old was reportedly shot by his captors as US commandos carried out a dramatic rescue bid in the southern Shabwa province late on Friday night – the second attempted extraction by special forces in as many months.
Another hostage, South African aid worker Pierre Korkie, was also killed during the operation – a day before he was due to be released.
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.
Barack Obama described Mr. Somers’ murder as ‘barbaric’ in a statement this morning.
‘On behalf of the American people, I offer my deepest condolences to Luke’s family and to his loved ones,’ he said in a statement.