US hostage Luke Somers dies after rescue bid

A US journalist held by al-Qaeda in Yemen was killed by militants during an operation to rescue him, US and Yemeni officials say.

Luke Somers was shot by his captors during a raid by US forces, a US official told the New York Times.

His sister, Lucy Somers, told the Associated Press that she had been notified by the FBI of his death.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed the killing and said a second, non-US hostage, also died.

Yemen’s defence ministry confirmed a “major operation” had taken place in Yemen’s southern Shabwa province on Saturday.

Mr Somers, who was kidnapped in Yemen in 2013, had appeared in a video appealing for help.

“We ask that all of Luke’s family members be allowed to mourn in peace,” Lucy Somers told AP, speaking from London.

A drone strike believed to have been carried out by the US is reported to have killed nine suspected al-Qaeda militants in the region

Mr Somers, 33, worked as a journalist and photographer for local news organisations. His material appeared on international news outlets, including the BBC News website.

He was kidnapped outside a supermarket in the Yemeni capital Sana’a in September 2013 and is believed to have been sold on to al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP).

The video of him released this week showed a member of AQAP threatening to kill Mr Somers unless unspecified demands were met.

The Pentagon confirmed that an an attempt to rescue Mr Somers last month had failed.

His family appealed in a video to al-Qaeda militants in Yemen to “show mercy” and release him.

“Luke is only a photojournalist and is not responsible for any actions the US government has taken,” his brother, Jordan, said in a video.

AQAP is regarded by the US as one of the deadliest offshoots of al-Qaeda.

The group is based in eastern Yemen and has built up support amid the unrest which has beset the impoverished country since the overthrow of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.

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