Civilians, Including Child, Killed in Botched US Yemen Rescue Mission
A botched US military mission to rescue an American photojournalist held captive by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen resulted in the deaths of at least 8 civilians, including a 10-year-old boy and a woman.
Reuters reports the civilians were killed along with several al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants during the failed rescue mission, led by members of the elite US Navy SEAL Team 6. Yemeni officials said AQAP commander Mubarak al-Harad was among those killed in the raid.
The SEALs managed to infiltrate the compound in Dafaar, Shabwa province where American Luke Somers, 33, was being held along with 56-year-old South African teacher Pierre Korkie, but the raiders were spotted and the militants shot both hostages before fleeing.
Korkie was set to be released the day after he was killed. His wife, Yolande Korkie, was captured along with him in Taiz in May 2013 but was released in January after the payment of a $200,000 ransom, the New York Times reports.
An American official speaking under condition of anonymity told the Times that the planners of the rescue mission did not know Korkie was about to be freed.
“We were not aware in advance about any release plans for other hostages,” the official said shortly after the failed rescue attempt. “That was not part of our planning.”
Saturday’s raid was the second attempt to free Somers in 10 days. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the operation had only been approved because AQAP threatened to kill Somers by the end of the week and US officials believes his execution was imminent.