US journalist Luke Somers and another man held by al-Qaeda in Yemen have been killed by militants during a rescue attempt by US special forces.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the hostages were “murdered by… terrorists during the mission” reported BBC.
He said there were “compelling reasons” to believe that Mr Somers’s life was in danger.
The second hostage has been named by a charity as South African teacher Pierre Korkie.
AQAP is regarded by the US as one of the deadliest offshoots of al-Qaeda.
The group is based in eastern Yemen and has built up support amid the unrest which has beset the impoverished country since the overthrow of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.
Plea to mourn
Mr Hagel said a number of militants were also killed in the operation in Shabwa province.
“US Special Operations Forces conducted a mission in Yemen to rescue a US citizen, Luke Somers, and any other foreign nationals held hostage with him by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorists,” he said in a statement released during a visit to Kabul.
“Both Mr Somers and a second non-US citizen hostage were murdered by the AQAP terrorists during the course of the operation.”
A US official told New York Times that Mr Somers, 33, was apparently shot by his captors as the raid unfolded and was badly wounded when the US forces reached him.
By the time he was flown to a US naval ship in the region, he had died from his injuries, the official was quoted as saying.
Mr Somer’s sister, Lucy Somers, told the Associated Press earlier that she had been notified by the FBI of his death.
“We ask that all of Luke’s family members be allowed to mourn in peace,” Lucy Somers told AP, speaking from London.
“We received with sadness the news that Pierre was killed in an attempt by American Special Forces, in the early hours of this morning, to free hostages in Yemen,” the charity gift of the givers said in a statement.
Mr Somers, who was kidnapped in Yemen in 2013, appeared in a video this week appealing for help.
The footage showed a member of AQAP threatening to kill him unless unspecified demands were met.
Mr Somers worked as a journalist and photographer for local news organisations. His material appeared on international news outlets,including BBC news website.
He was kidnapped outside a supermarket in the Yemeni capital Sana’a in September 2013 and is believed to have been sold on to al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP).
Another attempt to rescue Mr Somers last month had failed.