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SA hostage Pierre Korkie killed a day before release

Korkie's family was expecting him home for Christmas as he was due to be released by Al Qaeda on Sunday.

Korkie's family was expecting him to be home for Christmas, as he was due to be released by Al Qaeda on Sunday.

JOHANNESBURG - Gift of the Givers has in a statement said slain South African hostage Pierre Korkie, was to be released by Al Qaeda on Sunday.

Korkie was shot dead in crossfire during a rescue attempt by American Special Forces to free a US hostage.

He was kidnapped with his wife Yolande by Al Qaeda militants while working as a school teacher in Yemen in May last year.

In January this year, militants released his wife and demanded a R35 million ransom for his safe release.

Department of International Relations Spokesman, Nelson Kgwete, has confirmed Korkie was shot and killed in the crossfire.

"We were informed this morning that Mr Pierre Korkie was killed in an operation by American forces to rescue hostages, that he was caught in the crossfire."

In the statement, Gift of the Givers says the psychological and emotional devastation to Yolande and her family will be compounded by the knowledge that Korkie was to be released on Sunday.

It says a team of Abyan leaders met in Aden this morning and were preparing the final security and logistical arrangements.

The humanitarian organisation says it's even more tragic that the words used in a conversation with Korkie's wife before 6am this morning was 'the wait is almost over'.

His family was expecting him to be home for Christmas.

LUKE SOMERS

It is alleged that American photojournalist, Luke Somers, was the American citizen killed during failed rescue attempt.

International media reports quoted his sister, Lucy, as saying that she and her father learned of her 33-year-old brother's death from FBI agents this morning.

Somers was kidnapped in September 2013 from capital of Yemen, Sanaa.

Yemen, which borders the world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, is home to al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula, which Washington regards as one of the most active branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden.

The Pentagon said in 2012 the United States had resumed on-the-ground military training to bolster Yemen's fight against al-Qaeda.

Kidnapping is common in Western-backed Yemen, which is battling not only an al-Qaeda insurgency, but also a southern separatist movement and sporadic conflicts with armed tribes.

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