WASHINGTON — U.S. Particular Operations commandos carried out a predawn raid on Saturday to rescue an American citizen who had been kidnapped this week from his house in southern Niger.
Commandos from the Navy’s elite SEAL Staff 6 rescued the American, Philip Walton, 27, after monitoring the telephones of his attackers to a hide-out in neighboring northern Nigeria, U.S. officers mentioned.
“U.S. forces performed a hostage rescue operation in the course of the early hours of 31 Oct. in northern Nigeria to get well an American citizen held hostage by a gaggle of armed males,” Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, mentioned in a press release on Saturday.
Mr. Hoffman, who didn’t determine Mr. Walton by title, mentioned he “is protected and is now within the care of the U.S. Division of State.” One other official mentioned that Mr. Walton had been taken to an American air base in Niamey, Niger’s capital, to reunite together with his household.
Mr. Hoffman mentioned no American army personnel have been injured in the course of the operation. A number of of the captors have been killed within the raid, U.S. officers mentioned.
Mr. Walton, the son of missionaries, lives together with his spouse and younger daughter on a farm close to Massalata, a small village near the border with Nigeria. American and Nigerien officers had mentioned that Mr. Walton was seized from his yard on Monday in entrance of members of the family after assailants requested him for cash. He provided them $40 and was then taken away by the armed gunmen on motorbikes, the officers mentioned. The captors demanded practically $1 million in ransom for Mr. Walton’s launch.
One American official mentioned the assailants have been criminals who supposed to promote Mr. Walton to terrorist teams within the area. The operation was organized rapidly with the help of officers in Niger and Nigeria, the official mentioned.
In keeping with U.S. officers, the rescue began simply after midnight native time early Saturday when about 30 Navy commandos parachuted into the distant space the place the abductors had taken Mr. Walton. Members of the rescue staff hiked about three miles till they came across the captors’ small encampment in a copse of scrubland bushes and timber.
Within the transient however intense firefight that ensued, all however one of many half-dozen or so kidnappers have been killed. One captor escaped into the night time. Mr. Walton was not harmed within the gun battle, and he walked out to a makeshift touchdown zone, the place a U.S. helicopter whisked him to security.
A number of Westerners are at present hostage within the area. They embody the American help employee Jeffery Woodke, who was kidnapped within the central Nigerien city of Abalak in October 2016 and is believed to have been taken to neighboring Mali.
Mr. Walton’s kidnapping was simply the newest spasm of violence in Africa’s Sahel area, which has skilled a rising torrent of assaults by Islamic State and Qaeda associates particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
Six French help staff and their Nigerien information have been killed by Islamic extremists in August whereas visiting a wildlife park close to Niamey. An ambush in October 2017 close to Niger’s border with Mali left 4 American troopers lifeless.