President Barack Obama offers his “deepest apologies” for the deaths of the two aid workers, an American and an Italian.
President Barack Obama has said he “profoundly regrets” the accidental deaths of two hostages in a US counter-terrorism operation in January on the Pakistan-Afghan border, Sky News reports. The aid workers were Dr Warren Weinstein, a 73-year-old American held since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian abducted in 2012. “Based on the intelligence that we had obtained at the time, including hundreds of hours of surveillance, we believed that this was an al Qaeda compound, that no civilians were present,” Mr Obama told a White House news conference.
Terrorists were also killed in the raid, he added. As a husband and as a father,” Mr Obama said, “I cannot begin to imagine the anguish that the Weinstein and Lo Porto families are enduring today.” He continued: “As president and commander in chief, I take full responsibility for all our counter-terrorism operations. “I profoundly regret what happened.
“On behalf of the United States government I offer our deepest apologies to their families.” Two other Americans – both al Qaeda leaders – were killed in US raids in the same region, said the White House. One of them, Ahmed Farouq, died in the same operation that resulted in the deaths of Dr Weinstein and Mr Lo Porto, said the White House. The other one, Adam Gadahn, was killed probably in a separate raid in January, it added. The White House statement said neither Farouq nor Gadahn were specifically targeted.
American intelligence apparently had no information suggesting the pair’s presence at the site of the raids. US government sources said the operations involved drone strikes. Mr Lo Porto, a former student at London Metropolitan University, was snatched soon after arriving to work in Pakistan’s Punjab region in January 2012. Dr Weinstein, of Rockville, Maryland, was abducted after gunmen tricked their way into his home in Lahore in August 2011.
He was four days away from returning home after seven years in Pakistan. Dr Weinstein was working as a business development expert on contract with the US Agency for International Development. In a hostage video, he asked the US to free al Qaeda prisoners and said he felt “totally abandoned and forgotten”. His wife, Elaine Weinstein, issued a statement blaming al Qaeda for her husband’s death. “The cowardly actions of those who took Warren captive and ultimately to the place and time of his death are not in keeping with Islam and they will have to face their God to answer for their actions,” she said.