There are conflicting reports about the fate of Luke Somers, an American photojournalist held captive by al-Qaeda in Yemen, following a raid to free him.

Yemeni officials told Al Jazeera that Somers was taken away by air after a joint US/Yemen operation on Saturday, but they did not know if he was dead or alive.

The New York Times said Somers had been airlifted out, but had been shot by his captors during the rescue attempt and had died on the way to the naval base.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, the editor-in-chief of the Yemen Post said that it was confirmed Somers was no longer with al-Qaeda.

"We know that he is no longer with al-Qaeda, and we know he is not with the Yemeni government. We also know that he is with US troops, and he was taken away by air after the raid," Hakim al-Masmari said, speaking from Sanaa.

"We don't know if he is dead or alive," al-Masmari added. 

Earlier, one news agency quoted Somers' sister as saying he had been killed, another agency said he had been freed in the raid.

US State Department in a statement said it was "aware of conflicting reports but cannot comment at this time. We expect to be releasing a statement in the next few hours".

Somers had been held captive since last year after being snatched from the streets of Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Somers had pleaded for help in a video posted on Thursday on the Twitter account of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The group gave the US three days to meet its demands, failing which it said the "hostage will meet his inevitable fate"

Source: Al Jazeera