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British embassy in Yemen closed and staff evacuated

Britons in Yemen have been advised to leave immediately after the British embassy was closed, following a takeover of the country by Shiite rebels.

Concrete barriers are seen in front of the British embassy in Sanaa. Credit: Reuters

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said today diplomatic staff were being withdrawn from the country's capital Sanaa amid security fears, saying they were at "increased risk". The US State Department also said it had closed its embassy and evacuated staff.

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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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