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Al Qaida blames Obama for hostage deaths in Yemen

A top al Qaida leader in Yemen has blamed US President Barack Obama for the recent deaths of two hostages during a failed rescue attempt.

Nasr bin Ali al Ansi's video message, obtained by Site Intelligence, is the first comment by al Qaida following the deaths of Luke Somers, a British born American, and South African Pierre Korkie.

A top al Qaida leader in Yemen has blamed US President Barack Obama for the recent deaths of two hostages. Credit: Olivier Douliery/ABACAUSA.com

Al Ansi said he warned the US against such attempts after a first failed rescue operation in November.

He accused Obama of showing carelessness for the life of an American citizen and claimed the raid "caused things to go in a completely different way than we wanted".

Grieving Somers family 'angry' over failed rescue attempt

The family of Luke Somers, the British-born US citizen killed by al Qaida militants in Yemen on Saturday, have told reporters they are angry about the US military's failed rescue attempt and said they were "kept in the dark" about the mission.

Luke Somers died in a failed rescue attempt in Yemen Credit: SITE Intelligence Group

Somer's step-mother Penny Bearman told The Times(£) her husband was “quite angry . . . because if there had not been a rescue attempt he would still be alive.”

Bearman added that a military raid to save him is not what her step-son would have wanted.

She said: “We are sure that Luke would have given support to the ongoing discussions [to secure his release] in Yemen rather than the conflict approach."

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South African government 'saddened by Korkie's death'

The South African government said it was saddened by the death of hostage Pierre Korkie, who was killed during a failed US rescue mission in Yemen.

In a statement, the government expressed its "firm and unconditional condemnation of all forms of terrorism that invariably result in the senseless suffering and loss of innocent lives".

US forces unaware Korkie was being held with Somers

Reports have suggested that US forces, who launched a rescue mission to try and save photojournalist Luke Somers from al Qaida in Yemen, did not know the identity of the second hostage also being held by the rebel group.

A US official told the BBC that US special forces were unaware South African national Pierre Korkie was being held hostage when they launched their raid to free Somers yesterday.

Korkie had been due to be released by the end of the weekend but died alongside Somers after being shot by militants during the raid.

A statement on charity website Gift of the Givers, who had been arranging Korkie's release, confirms: "Pierre was to be released by al Qaida."

Leaders condemn deaths of Yemen hostages

The US President Barack Obama and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond have condemned the killing to two western hostages held in Yemen.

British-born American Luke Somers and South African Pierre Korkie died during a failed rescue mission, launched by the US a few days ago after it said there were "compelling reasons" the men's lives were in danger. Duncan Golestani reports.

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Hammond offers condolences to hostages' families

Philip Hammond Credit: PA Wire

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond today offered his condolences to the families of Mr Somers and Mr Korkie.

Mr Hammond said: "My deepest condolences are with the families of both hostages at this time. We utterly condemn AQAP for the brutal murder of these two men."

He added: "I salute the forces involved, who showed great courage in carrying out this mission.

"We continue to work with our international and Yemeni partners to counter the threat from al Qaida and other terrorist groups."

Step-mother's tribute to photographer Luke Somers

The step-mother of Luke Somers, the British-born US citizen killed in Yemen after being kidnapped last September, said paid tribute to his professional achievements in a statement to ITV News.

Penny Bearman, Luke's father's wife, said she believed he would want issues of extremism and terrorism to be addressed by dialogue.

Luke’s taste for travel grew early on in life. He was born in London to an American Mother who returned to the States with him when he was seven years old, visiting his father each year in Deal, Kent.

As a young man he worked Salmon Fishing in the Arctic, lived for a time in Jamaica, witnessed riots in Cairo and moved to Yemen in 2011.

He was a talented photographer with a sensitivity for people and people’s lives and made a considerable contribution as a photo journalist in telling the stories of communities in war-torn areas. Recently he lived in Sana’a the capital city of Yemen, living as a well-loved and respected member of the community there. He has extensive coverage of the area online, illustrating and expressing the struggles of the Yemen people.

I think Luke would have wanted issues of extremism and terrorism to be addressed by stepping up the dialogue instead of resorting to conflict between nations.

– Penny Bearman

South African Pierre Korkie's body will be repatriated

The South African government will "ensure" that the body of murdered Pierre Korkie will be brought home following reports of his death today.

Korkie died alongside fellow hostage Luke Somers during a rescue attempt by US special forces in Yemen.

Nelson Kgwete, a spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation for the Republic of South Africa, said: "We have been informed that the American special forces are now in possession of Mr Korkie's body.

"We will arrange with them and the government of Yemen to ensure that we repatriate Pierre's remains to South Africa."

Obama: Luke Somers death a 'barbaric murder'

US President Barack Obama has called the death of Luke Somers at the hands of al Qaida militants a "barbaric murder".

Somers was killed during a rescue operation by US forces in Yemen this morning.

US President Barack Obama called Luke Somers' death a 'barbaric murder'. Credit: Olivier Douliery/DPA/Press Association Images

Obama offered his condolences to the Somers' family, and the family of a non-US citizen hostage who was also killed during the rescue operation, after hearing of their deaths.

"As this and previous hostage rescue operations demonstrate, the US will spare no effort to use all of its military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located," Obama added.

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