posted at 03:00
Author Name: Jamal al-Jabiri
US defends failed Yemen rescue operation
The hostages - 33-year-old American Luke Somers and 57-year-old South African Pierre Korkie - were killed by their captors when US commandos stormed an Al-Qaeda hideout early on Saturday. The failed raid came after the kidnappers had threatened to kill Somers within 72 hours, and just a day before Korkie was due to be released under a negotiated deal. A senior US defence official said there were "Good indications" that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group's powerful Yemeni branch, "Were preparing to kill" Somers. British-born Somers, 33, had worked as a freelance photographer for the BBC and spent time at local newspapers, including the Yemen Times, before being abducted in Sanaa in September 2013. Saturday's operation saw 40 US commandos dropped by helicopter in the dead of night 10 kilometres from where Somers and Korkie were being held in the southeastern province of Shabwa, officials said. One hostage - it was not clear who - died en route to the USS Makin Island off Yemen, and the other died on the operating table, officials said. The threat to kill Somers followed the murder since August of five Western hostages by the Islamic State jihadist group which controls parts of Syria and Iraq. Yemen is a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, allowing Washington to conduct a longstanding drone war against the group on its territory.

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