Dirco expects explanation on operation leading to Korkie's death

While Dirco says SA hostage Pierre Korkie was killed in the crossfire, the US says he was executed before.

FILE. While Dirco says SA teacher Pierre Korkie held hostage in Yemen was killed in crossfire, the US says he executed before. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) says it's expecting a full briefing from its counterparts in the United States about an operation that led to Pierre Korkie being killed in Yemen overnight.

US President Barack Obama today announced that a military operation to free an American journalist had left nine Al-Qaeda militants and two hostages dead.

Korkie is among the dead.

He had been kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in Yemen last year, where he'd been working as a school teacher.

Dirco says a police negotiator informed Korkie's wife Yolande of the military operation.

Spokesman, Nelson Kgwete, says Korkie was killed in crossfire between US forces and militants.

"That is going to come later on when we interact with the American forces on the details of the operation. At the moment all we can confirm is that he was killed in that operation."

But the US says he was executed when the raid started.

Relief group Gift of the Givers had been trying to facilitate his safe return and founder Imtiaz Sooliman says the South African government had arranged his travel documents.

"The passport was even ready. We had to inform them in advance that they had to fly and tell us which exit route they're going to use."

Korkie's body is understood to still be in the possession of US forces and arrangements are now being made to return his remains to South Africa.