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US confirms killing of Kayla Mueller, US hostage held by IS

US confirms that aid worker Kayla Meuller, who was taken hostage by the Islamic State in 2013, has been killed
Kayla Mueller, 26, has been held captive by the Islamic State since August 2013 (Twitter/RIBBS)

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday confirmed the killing of US aid worker Kayla Jean Mueller, who was taken hostage in Syria by the Islamic State group, and vowed to track down her captors.

“No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death,” he said in a statement.

The 26-year-old aid worker from Arizona was captured in August 2013 in Aleppo.

The IS group claimed last week she had been killed in an air strike by a Jordanian military plane in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the militant group’s self-proclaimed “capital”.

But the White House said that, over the weekend, IS has send Mueller’s family a “private message” with additional information that was “authenticated” by intelligence, allowing them to confirm her killing at the hands of IS. 

Parents Carl and Marsha Mueller on Tuesday voiced their heartbreak at the killing of their daughter, although provided no more information about the details of her death. 

The pair also praised the humanitarian work she had done and said they were proud of their daughter. 

“We are so proud of the person Kayla was and the work that she did while she was here with us. She lived with purpose, and we will work every day to honour her legacy.”

“Our hearts are breaking for our only daughter, but we will continue on in peace, dignity, and love for her.”

In a letter from captivity in early 2014 - which was partially redacted - Mueller said she was “completely unharmed” by her captors but heavy-hearted about the toil it must have taken on her family.

“Just the thought of you all send me into a fit of tears,” she wrote in the letter released by her family.

“If you could say I have ‘suffered’ at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through.”

She dreamt about family camping trips and imagined meeting them at the airport if she were released.

“I miss you all as if it has been a decade of forced separation.”

Obama praised Meuller’s humanitarian work at home, in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“Kayla dedicated her life to helping others in need at home and around the world. In Prescott, Arizona, she volunteered at a women’s shelter and worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic.”

“She worked with humanitarian organisations in India, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, compelled by her desire to serve others. Eventually, her path took her to Turkey, where she helped provide comfort and support to Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes during the war," he added. 

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