U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday apologized for a counterterrorism operation in January that accidentally killed two aid workers held hostage by al-Qaeda, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto.
“As a husband and as a father, I cannot begin to imagine the anguish that the Weinstein and Lo Porto families are enduring today,” Obama told reporters, with a deep sigh, saying he took responsibility for the deaths and has ordered a full review.
“I profoundly regret what happened,” Obama said, explaining he declassified some of the details of the operation so that the families could know what happened.
Another American al-Qaeda member, Adam Gadahn, also was killed, likely in a separate operation, the White House added.
Weinstein was abducted in Lahore, Pakistan, in 2011 while working for a U.S. consulting firm. Al-Qaeda had asked to trade him for members of the Islamist militant group being held by the United States.
Weinstein was seen in videos released in May 2012 December 2013, asking for Obama to intervene on his behalf and saying he was suffering from heart problems and asthma.
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Italian aid worker Lo Porto has been missing in Pakistan since January 2012.
The White House did not describe the operation, but the Wall Street Journal reported that it was a the first known instance in which the United States has accidentally killed a hostage in a drone strike.