Freelancer Luke Somers killed in hostage rescue attempt in Yemen

New York, December 6, 2014–Luke Somers, an American freelance journalist held hostage by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed along with fellow hostage Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher, during a failed rescue attempt by U.S. special forces on Saturday morning in Yemen, according to U.S. officials and news reports.

President Barack Obama said in a statement Saturday that the hostages were “murdered” by the militants during the operation to rescue them.

“Luke Somers went to Yemen to bring us the news. Instead he became the news at the hands of militants who increasingly use journalists as pawns in a murderous political game,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “As journalists we must rally to continue the work of our fallen colleagues, to seek justice in their names, and to protect all those who go out in the field every day despite the danger.”

Somers, who was abducted in September 2013, is the third American freelance journalist to die this year while being held captive, after James Foley and Steven Sotloff were murdered in Syria. Saturday’s raid is at least the third to be launched by U.S. special forces in an attempt to rescue American journalists held hostage in Syria and Yemen. All of the raids failed to rescue the journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented at least seven other abductions of journalists in Yemen in 2013, all but one of whom were local. Those journalists were all eventually released.