Korkie would have been home for Christmas - GotG

2014-12-06 13:11
(File: Nicolene Olckers)

(File: Nicolene Olckers)

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Johannesburg - Al-Qaeda militants who had held South African Pierre Korkie hostage were planning to release him, the Gift of the Givers said on Saturday.

"That was to happen tomorrow [Sunday]," founder Imtiaz Sooliman said.

He said an agreement was reached with al-Qaeda militants on 26 November for Korkie's release.

However, on Saturday morning Korkie was killed in a failed rescue attempt by American Special Forces in Yemen.

Sooliman said Korkie's wife, Yolande, had been expecting him home for Christmas.

"It is even more tragic that the words we used in a conversation with Yolande at 05:59am this morning was 'the wait is almost over'," Sooliman said in a text message, adding that they did not expect this outcome.

"Alas, the events of this morning put an end to 11 months of unlimited attempts to bring Pierre home safely."

The couple was kidnapped by the militants in Taiz, Yemen, in May last year. Yolande was released on 10 January and returned to South Africa on 13 January . The Gift of the Givers had helped negotiate her release.

At the time of the kidnapping, Korkie was a teacher in Yemen, while his wife did relief work in hospitals.

The kidnappers demanded about R32.5m in exchange for Korkie's safe return.

The foundation had tried to make contact with al-Qaeda through international media and circulated an interview with their office manager in Yemen, Anas al-Hamati.

Al-Hamati was forced to leave Yemen at the end of January for his own safety after al-Qaeda accused him of stealing the ransom money.

Tribal leaders in Yemen then took over the talks with Al-Qaeda.

On 25 February, tribal leaders found out that Korkie was still alive but in bad health. Since then no more information was available on his condition.

Korkie was, however, spotted three times.

According to the Agence France-Presse, a drone strike early on Saturday had killed nine suspected al-Qaeda militants in the southeast of Yemen.

An American photojournalist Luke Somers, who was also being held hostage by the militants, was also killed in the failed rescue attempt.

Lucy Somers told reporters she learned of her 33-year-old brother's death from FBI agents.


Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  pierre korkie  |  yemen  |  johannesburg  |  abductions

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