The same Navy SEAL team that successfully carried out the mission to kill Osama bin Laden last May rescued two hostages who had been held captive in Somalia for three months, President Obama announced Wednesday.
“As commander in chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts,” Obama said in a statement.
American Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, a Danish citizen, were both captured in October by criminals while working with a de-mining unit of the Danish Refugee Council.
After Obama received information that Buchanan’s health was “deteriorating rapidly,” he ordered his security team to organize a rescue plan. Nine kidnappers were killed in the raid as the SEAL team descended upon the hostage camp after dark. The Danish Refugee Council made prior calls for Buchanan and Thisted’s release, even working with Somali elders to help mediate the situation. The organization also noted that several concerned Somalian citizens had rallied on behalf of the pair.
“The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to bring their captors to justice,” Obama said. “This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people.”
After the rescue, the two were transported to a U.S. military base called Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti by helicopter, reports the Associated Press. Djibouti is home to the only U.S. military base in sub-Saharan Africa and hosts the military's Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
“This successful hostage rescue, undertaken in a hostile environment, is a testament to the superb skills of courageous service members who risked their lives to save others,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a statement. “I applaud their efforts, and I am pleased that Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted were not harmed during the operation.”
On Saturday, American journalist Michael Scott Moore was also kidnapped in central Somalia by an armed militia.
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(Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Jim Hampshire/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)