Reports of bid to free US hostage Luke Somers in Yemen

Luke Somers, file pic The journalist was abducted in Yemen in September 2013

US and Yemeni forces have launched an operation to rescue a US hostage held by al-Qaeda militants, reports say.

Details of the bid to free UK-born journalist Luke Somers are unclear.

It comes as nine alleged al-Qaeda militants were reported to have died in a drone strike believed to have been carried out by the US in Yemen's southern Shabwa province.

Yemen's defence ministry confirmed a "major operation" was taking place in the region.

Mr Somers, who was abducted in Yemen in 2013, has appeared in a video appealing for help.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon confirmed that an attempt to rescue Mr Somers last month had failed.

There are conflicting reports about the outcome of the operation to free him on Saturday.

Mr Somers, 33, worked as a journalist and photographer for local news organisations. His material appeared on international news outlets, including the BBC News website.

BBC map of Yemen, showing Shabwa

The video of him released this week also shows a member of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) threatening to kill Mr Somers unless unspecified demands are met.

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.

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