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South Africa says ‘deeply saddened’ by killing of hostage in Yemen

The South African government said Sunday it was “deeply saddened” by the killing in Yemen of one of its nationals by Al-Qaeda during a US special forces rescue operation.

Teacher Pierre Korkie, 57, who had been held captive since May 2013, was killed along with American photojournalist Luke Somers when US commandos stormed an Al-Qaeda hideout early on Saturday.

“The South African government undertook numerous initiatives through our former deputy minister, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim, and our ambassador in Saudi Arabia to help secure Mr Korkie’s release,” the government said in a statement.

“We are therefore saddened that the kidnapping ended in the tragic death of Mr Korkie, a man innocent of any crime.”

The failed US raid came after the kidnappers had threatened in a video to kill Somers within 72 hours, and just a day before Korkie was due to be released under a negotiated deal.

Korkie’s wife Yolande, who was taken hostage with her husband, was freed in January after what the statement said was an “intervention” by the South African government, the charity Gift of Givers and the Yemeni government.