An attempt to rescue American hostage Luke Somers ended in failure on Saturday, with members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fatally shooting him and another captive, South African Pierre Korkie. Somers and Korkie were being held in a village in Yemen.
The Associated Press reports that “[a]bout 40 U.S. special operations forces were part of the mission, according to the U.S. officials. The rescuers, backed by Yemeni ground forces, got within 100 meters of the compound in southern Shabwa province when they were spotted by the militants, and the skirmish ensued.”
The militants then shot Somers and Korkie. Though both were reportedly pulled alive onto a U.S. aircraft, they died despite receiving medical assistance during the flight to a Navy ship.
This was the second time in the last two weeks that the United States tried to free Somers, a 34-year-old photojournalist who was kidnapped in 2013. Earlier this week, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a video threatening to kill Somers if the U.S. government didn’t meet their demands. Yemen’s national security chief, Maj. Gen. Ali al-Ahmadi, told reporters that the militants planned to end Somers’s life today, prompting the joint mission.
Korkie, a teacher, was expected to be freed on Sunday, according to Gift of the Givers, an organization that arranged his release. “It is even more tragic that the words we used in a conversation with [Korkie’s wife] at 5:59 this morning was, ‘The wait is almost over,’” said a spokesperson. Somers’s sister, Lucy Somers, told the AP that the FBI had informed her of her brother’s death at 5 a.m. “We ask that all of Luke’s family members be allowed to mourn in peace,” she said.