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Pierre Korkie's death shocks family and friends

Swimmer Ryk Neethling was taught by Korkie and says he's been left shocked by the news of his killing.

Yolande Korkie is flanked by her children during an emotional appeal to al-Qaeda to release her husband Pierre just two days before the group has said it would execute him. Picture: Volksblad.

JOHANESBURG - Friends of Bloemfontein school teacher Pierre Korkie say they're struggling to make sense of his killing and his family has been left devastated.

US President Barack Obama confirmed that Korkie was killed along with US journalist Luke Somers in a drone attack and subsequent raid in central Yemen last night.

Both were killed in the attack with US forces claiming the pair were executed by al-Qaeda when the raid started.

Korkie was kidnapped with his wife, Yolande, in Yemen last year.

Yolande was released in January this year and was instructed by al-Qaeda to raise R30 million in ransom money for his release.

Relief group Gift of the Givers say they were only a few days away from securing Korkie's release.

Swimmer Ryk Neethling was taught by Korkie in Bloemfontein and says he's been left shocked by news of his killing.

"It's hard to understand the situation but hopefully there will be a silver lining for the family and maybe there is something we can learn from it. We all feel a sense of loss and shock."

KORKIE WAS DUE TO BE RELEASED

After trying to rescue Korkie from al-Qaeda militants for over one and a half years, the relief group says it was only two days away from having him returned when the US operation backfired.

The group's founder Imtiaz Sooliman yesterday explained how Yolande was hopeful for his return just an hour before hearing the news.

Sooliman says their sources in Yemen managed to get the al-Qaeda group to lower its ransom demand in exchange for freeing the teacher.

"Eventually the ransom was waived but there was to be a facilitation fee in the region of $200,000."

Sooliman says a police negotiator from international relations had been kept updated about the plan but he couldn't say whether US forces were aware of it.

Yesterday the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said it was not aware of any plans to have Korkie.

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