Please free Luke say sister and dad

Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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The sister and father of a British-born photojournalist taken hostage by al Qaida in Yemen have added their voices to pleas for his captors to spare his life.

Luke Somers was kidnapped last September in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, where he was a freelance photographer for the Yemen Times.

Al Qaida posted a video on Thursday that showed Mr Somers, 33, and a local al Qaida commander threatening that American citizen Mr Somers would meet his fate in three days if the United States did not meet the group’s demands, which were not specified.

In a video posted near London, his sister Lucy described her older brother as a romantic who “always believes the best in people”. She ends with the plea: “Please let him live.”

In a statement, Mr Somers’ father Michael called his son “a good friend of Yemen and the Yemeni people” and asked for his safe release.

“When foreign nationals were advised to leave Yemen, Luke refused to go, saying he felt safe and at home there,” Ms Somers said in her video. “He felt the Yemeni people would look after him.”

“Photojournalism has been his way of highlighting the struggles of the Yemeni people.”

Michael Somers said his son “was confident that no one would harm him for his simplicity and honest friendship to all Yemenis around him”.

He “told all his friends and loved ones stories of Yemenis’ generosity, humility and devoted friendship,” his father said, adding: “Luke’s life in Yemen these past three and a half years should not have ended with a kidnapping but with a great reward. The fact that he chose to live in Yemen and not the United States shows where his sympathies lay. Please bring Luke back to us safe and sound.”

Mr Somers’ brother Jordan and mother Paula offered a similar message in an earlier video.

“My life is in danger,” Mr Somers said in the al Qaida footage, which appeared to mimic hostage videos released by the terror group’s rival, Islamic State (IS). He asked for help.

On Thursday, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby acknowledged for the first time that a raid last month had sought to rescue Mr Somers but he turned out not to be at the site.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan also said President Barack Obama had authorised a rescue operation to free Mr Somers and other hostages but “regrettably, Luke was not present”.

Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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