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    This is an undated photo provided by the Korkie family, of South African Pierre Korkie

    US Admits Ignorance of Talks to Free Yemen Hostage

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    The US ambassador to South Africa says that his government was unaware of negotiations being carried out by a South African charity.

    MOSCOW, December 8 (Sputnik) – the US was unaware of talks to free a South African hostage who was killed in its unsuccessful rescue operation in Yemen on Saturday, the US ambassador to South Africa has said.

    The US was "unaware of ongoing negotiations that had any resolution," between Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen and a South African NGO to free Pierre Korkie, said Ambassador Patrick Gaspard, according to AP.

    Humanitarian organization Gift of the Givers said in a statement on Saturday that they had negotiated Korkie's release for the following day, and that on the morning of the failed operation, "a team of Abyan leaders met in Aden … and were preparing the final security and logistical arrangements, related to hostage release mechanisms, to bring Pierre to safety and freedom."

    The South African ambassador however, told AP that US officials "were just completely unaware of those developments and had to act hastily," adding that it was "not altogether clear" to him if the South African government had been aware of the negotiations.

    South African teacher Korkie and British-born US photojournalist Luke Somers were killed on Saturday in a botched rescue attempt carried out by US Special Forces to save Somers. US president Barack Obama approved the rescue mission in the belief that Somers was "in imminent danger" after the group al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula published a video last week in which its leader threatened to kill the photojournalist if the US government did not meet their demands.

    A US official told the BBC that before the raid, US special forces had not known the identity of the other hostage being held with Somers, who was the subject of a previous rescue attempt in November, carried out by US and Yemeni forces.

    According to a statement by the US State Department, the November rescue mission was undertaken on the basis of "reliable intelligence," but that "regrettably Luke was not present," adding, "The hostages of other nationalities were present and were rescued." Reuters reported Yemeni sources who said that Somers and two other hostages had been moved two days earlier from the cave in the remote Hajr as-Say'ar district in the eastern province of Hadramout, and that the raid killed seven al-Qaeda kidnappers and rescued six Yemenis, a Saudi and an Ethiopian hostage.

    Related:

    American Hostage Killed in Failed Rescue Operation in Yemen
    White House Rejects Delays in Failed Hostage Rescue Mission in Yemen
    White House Refuses to Reveal Details of Hostage Rescue Operation in Yemen
    Tags:
    al-Qaida, pierre korkie, luke somers, Patrick Gaspard, Yemen
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