US, Danish Aid Workers Freed in Military Operation in Somalia

Posted January 25th, 2012 at 2:30 am (UTC-5)
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A Danish humanitarian organization says a military operation has freed two of its aid workers – an American woman and a Danish man – who were kidnapped by gunmen three months ago in central Somalia.

The Danish Refugee Council said early Wednesday that Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted were rescued early Wednesday “during an operation in Somalia.” It said both were freed unharmed and were at a safe location.

Several local officials say the raid was carried out by U.S. military helicopters under cover of darkness early Wednesday. They say the raid resulted in a heavy gun battle, with several militants being killed.

Buchanan and Thisted worked for the Danish Demining Group, which helps clear mines and unexploded devices in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East.

They were kidnapped in October while on their way to the airport in the central Somali city of Galkayo.

Over the past several months, several abductions for ransom have been carried out in Somalia and northern Kenya.

The Kenyan government blames those kidnappings on the Somali militant group al-Shabab, and has sent troops into Somalia in pursuit of the militants. Al-Shabab denies it had anything to do with the kidnappings.