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Obama condemns killing of U.S. hostage in failed Yemen rescue mission
December 08,2014   By:Xinhua

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2014 -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday denounced the killing of an American hostage in a second failed rescue operation in Yemen, vowing to bring the killers to justice.

"The United States strongly condemns the barbaric murder of Luke Somers at the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists during a rescue operation conducted by U.S. forces in Yemen in partnership with the Yemeni government," the president said in a statement.

Somers, a 33-year-old photojournalist, was seized by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in September 2013. Obama said he authorized a rescue operation on Friday after a video released by Somers' captors announced his killing within 72 years.

Somers was badly wounded when the U.S. commandos reached him early Saturday local time, and succumbed to his injuries by the time he was flown to an American naval ship in the region, The New York Times reported, citing a senior U.S. official.

Another hostage, from South Africa, was also killed in the rescue attempt, the newspaper said.

The U.S. and Yemeni forces launched a joint mission last month to rescue Somers but failed to find him at the site, but hostages of other nationalities were present and rescued.

In a video released on Thursday, the Yemen-based AQAP warned the United States not to carry out any more rescue missions.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said several of AQAP militants were killed in the latest rescue mission.

The Obama administration has stepped up drone strikes on the AQAP, with a view to uprooting the group in Yemen's southern regions.

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