US Special Forces rescued an American citizen in Saturday’s operation in the north Nigeria He is believed to have killed several of his captors, according to US officials.
Forces, including the Navy, rescued Philip Walton, 27, who had been kidnapped on Tuesday from his home in the neighboring south. NigerTwo US officials said, on condition of anonymity, that the US forces were unharmed.
A diplomatic source in Niger said Walton is now at the US ambassador’s residence in Niamey.
“A major victory for the US Special Forces elite today,” Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.
The Pentagon confirmed the operation, but did not disclose the identity of the hostage.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The United States is committed to the safe return of all American citizens who have been captured. We fulfilled that commitment late last night in Nigeria, where some of our bravest and most skilled warriors rescued an American citizen after he was taken by a group. Armed men held hostage across the border in Niger.
Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our army, the support of our intelligence specialists, and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family. We will never abandon any American taken hostage. “
Walton, who used to keep camels, sheep and poultry and grow mangoes near the border with Nigeria, was kidnapped by six men armed with assault rifles who arrived on motorcycles at his home in the village of Masalata in southern Niger early on Tuesday.
She left his wife, young daughter and brother behind. The perpetrators demanded money and searched the house before leaving with Walton.
Niger, like most of the Sahel regions in West Africa, is facing a deep security crisis as groups with links to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State launch attacks on the army and civilians, despite the help of French and American forces.
Four American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger in 2017, prompting controversy over the US role in the sparsely populated desert of West Africa that includes some of the world’s poorest countries.
Islamist militants are holding at least six foreign hostages in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Islamists have raised millions of dollars in ransoms in recent years. The United States government has often criticized other countries for pushing it.