US Special Forces Rescue Hostages in Somalia

Posted January 25th, 2012 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A U.S. military operation has freed two aid workers – an American woman and a Danish man – who were kidnapped by gunmen three months ago in central Somalia.

In a statement Wednesday, President Barack Obama praised U.S. special operations forces who hours earlier freed Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted during a daring pre-dawn raid.

Buchanan and Thisted worked for the Danish Demining Group, a unit of the Danish Refugee Council that helps clear landmines and other explosives in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East. They were kidnapped in October in the central Somali city of Galkayo.

The aid group said Wednesday that both were freed unharmed and are at a safe location.

Officials in Somalia say several U.S. helicopters carried out the raid under cover of darkness. They say there was a gunbattle and at least nine militants were killed.

Just before his State of the Union address in Washington late Tuesday, President Obama could be heard by television microphones congratulating Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, apparently for the success of the rescue operation.

Officials say armed criminals, or pirates, appear to be responsible for the kidnapping. Somali pirates have increasingly carried out land-based kidnappings as foreign governments have increased security on the seas.

Several abductions for ransom have been carried out in Somalia and northern Kenya during the past several months. An American man was kidnapped near the Galkayo airport last week.

The Kenyan government blames kidnappings in its country on the Somali militant group al-Shabab and has sent troops into Somalia in pursuit of the militants.