UK

Hostage Luke Sommers Would Still Be Alive If Obama Hadn't Tried To Rescue Him, Says Family

08/12/2014 09:39 GMT | Updated 08/12/2014 09:59 GMT

The UK-based family of a British-born hostage killed by Islamic militants has said he might still be alive had it not been for an attempted US rescue mission.

Luke Somers, 33, was shot by his al Qaida captors as they fought US special forces attempting to extract him and South African teacher Pierre Korkie.

Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAB) posted a video online on Thursday, threatening to kill the American citizen within three days but his stepmother Penny Bearman and half-sister Lucy Somers indicated they still had hope because previous threats had not been carried out.

luke somers

Sommers' parents have revealed their anger

Ms Bearman, 55, of Deal, Kent, told the Times they were "quite angry because if there had not been a rescue attempt he would still be alive."

"We are sure Luke would have given support to the ongoing discussions (to secure his release) in Yemen rather than the conflict approach. There had been threats before that had not been carried out," she said.

She added the the release of the video had "led to things escalating horribly" and the family had been "kept in the dark" about the effort, as well as a previous attempt last month.

US president Barack Obama sanctioned the mission and secretary of state John Kerry cited "a compelling indication that Luke's life was in immediate danger" and said "we recommended that the president authorise an attempt to rescue Luke".

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Luke Sommers was killed in a failed US rescue mission

Speaking in Afghanistan, defence secretary Chuck Hagel said the rescue operation was "extremely well executed" but complicated and risky.

Ms Somers said she had learned of her brother's death from FBI agents.

He was kidnapped in September 2013 in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa while working as a photojournalist.

His death follows similar killings by another extremist group Islamic State (IS), who released online videos of the seperate murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, US aid worker Peter Kassig and two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning.