A high-risk, U.S.-led raid attempting to rescue hostages in Yemen ended in failure, despite killing 10 al-Qaida militants.
The hostages — American photojournalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie — died of wounds sustained during the raid.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
About 40 American special operations forces were involved in the rescue attempt, which followed U.S. drone strikes in the area, U.S. officials said.
Following a firefight with militants, the rescuers eventually reached the men and found them alive but gravely wounded. They both died shortly after.
On Thursday, al-Qaida released a video showing Somers and threatening to kill him in three days if the U.S. did not meet the group’s unspecified demands.
In South Africa, Korkie’s body is expected to arrive from Yemen on Monday, according to a government statement issued Sunday.
“The South African government sends deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Korkie for their loss. Condolences are also conveyed to the family and loved ones of the deceased American hostage,” said the government statement.
Korkie’s widow, Yolande, and their two children have gone to a secluded place to grieve, said family friend Daan Nortier.
“Yolande and the children are at a safe place and the family is being helped by counsellors,” said Nortier.
Later in the day in the capital, Sanaa, gunmen at a funeral opened fire on a tribal leader aligned with ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, killing three of his bodyguards and wounding him, security officials said.
Sheikh Sagheer Bin Aziz was involved in fighting against Shiite Houthi rebels in 2010, who have since taken control of Sanaa. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters, said they believe Houthis were behind the attack.
Separately, gunmen believed to be from al-Qaida fought with government troops in the southern city of Houta, killing one soldier and wounding three as they attempted to take control of government buildings but failed, the officials said.
Story compiled with information from The Associated Press.
Roby Barrett from Middle East Institute talked about the hostage raid in Yemen
South Africans were in shock over the killing of Pierre Korkie on the very day he was expected to be released. The teacher’s body was expected to arrive in South Africa on Monday.
For more on the hostage raid in Yemen, CCTV America talked with Roby Barrett, an analyst at the Middle East Institute.