Captured American journalist Luke Somers and another hostage held by Al Qaeda in Yemen were murdered during a failed rescue attempt by U.S. special forces, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed in a statement today.

Somers—already the subject of one unsuccessful rescue operation—had been held hostage for over a year when he was killed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula early Saturday morning. According to The Wall Street Journal, the second slain hostage was South African teacher Pierre Korkie.

Hagel said there were "compelling reasons to believe Mr. Somers' life was in imminent danger" that prompted President Obama to order the raid. Earlier this week, Al Qaeda released a video of man identified as Somers pleading for his life.

"We remember Luke and his family," said the President in a statement, "as well as the families of those Americans who are still being held captive overseas and those who have lost loved ones to the brutality of these and other terrorists."

UPDATE: The hostages were apparently rescued alive but gravely injured and later died from their wounds. From CBS News:

South African Pierre Korkie and American Luke Somers were still alive but had recently been wounded when the SEALs pulled them from a building on the group's compound and got them aboard an Osprey aircraft with a surgeon, according to [a senior administration official]. One of the hostages died en route to a U.S. Navy ship while the other died onboard the ship.

[Image via AP Images]