British-American photojournalist Luke Somers died on Dec. 6, 2014 in central Yemen’s Shabwa province after he was shot by a member of the group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which was holding him hostage, during a failed rescue attempt by U.S. special forces. A gunfight broke out when Somers’ captors apparently became aware of the Americans’ approach to the compound where he was being held and one of the militants shot both Somers and fellow captive Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher. Both were evacuated from the compound with serious injuries, but died in transit.
Somers documented anti-government protests, political developments and the effect of the conflict on civilians in Yemen for The Yemen Times, National Yemen and international outlets. He was abducted in September 2013 in the Yemeni capital Sana’a. On Nov. 25, 2014, U.S. special forces and Yemeni counterterrorism forces reportedly recovered eight hostages from a cave in remote northern Yemen near the Saudi border in a rescue operation planned to recover Somers, who had been moved to a different location days earlier. A three-minute video surfaced on Dec. 3, 2014 in which Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a representative of AQAP, denounced alleged American transgressions against Muslims and threatened to execute Somers in three days if the group’s demands were not met.