American photojournalist Luke Somers is dead after a rescue attempt by American forces in Yemen, reports the Washington Post. Defense chief Chuck Hagel says that US troops tried to free the 33-year-old Somers because his execution was "imminent," but that his al-Qaeda keepers killed him during the raid. Another hostage identified as South African teacher Pierre Korkie also was killed, reports AP. "We ask that all of Luke's family members be allowed to mourn in peace," said sister Lucy Somers in London. Her brother was kidnapped last year from the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, and US forces had tried to free him in a previous raid.
"Al-Qaeda promised to conduct the execution (of Somers) today so there was an attempt to save them, but unfortunately they shot the hostage before or during the attack," says Yemen's national security chief. Somers' father, Michael, had called his son "a good friend of Yemen and the Yemeni people" in a video prior to his death. Luke Somers had worked as a copy editor and photographer for the National Yemen. The charity group Gift of Givers says the South African hostage with him had been scheduled for release tomorrow. (Read more Luke Somers stories.)