South African hostage killed in Yemen was to be ‘released by Al-Qaeda on Sunday’


Pierre Korkie, the South African hostage killed in Yemen on Saturday, was meant to have been released the next day. The charity, Gift of the Givers, headed by Dr Imtiaaz Sooliman, said Korkie was set to be released after a team had negotiated his release.

Korkie, held by Al-Qaeda since May 2013, was killed on Saturday when American and Yemeni forces tried to rescue photojournalist Luke Somers purportedly after receiving information that Somers was in “imminent danger”.

According to Sooliman, a team of Abyan leaders are said to have met in Aden on Saturday morning and were preparing the final security and logistical arrangements, related to hostage release mechanisms, to bring Korkie to safety and freedom. “It is even more tragic that the words we used in a conversation with Yolande at 5:59 this morning was: ‘The wait is almost over’,” Gift of the Givers said.  “The psychological and emotional devastation to Yolande and her family will be compounded by the knowledge that Pierre was to be released by Al-Qaeda tomorrow.” 

It is still unclear whether the South African or American government was aware that Gift of the Givers had successfully negotiated Korkie’s release.

Nelson Kgwete, a spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, is reported by ENCA, to have said that US Special Forces are in possession of Korkie’s body.  Dirco is said to be in the process of making arrangements for the repatriation of the body.

“The White House released a statement in which Obama did not mention Korkie, but said his office had “authorized the rescue of any other hostages held in the same location as Luke,” the AP news agency reported.

Korkie was kidnapped in the Yemeni city of Taiz in May 2013, along with his wife Yolande.

Al-Qaeda eventually released Yolande after the Gift of the Givers helped negotiate for her freedom.

It was reported that Al-Qaeda had demanded up to $3 million in ransom for Pierre’s release.



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