U.S. military forces helicoptered into Somalia in a nighttime raid
Wednesday and freed two hostages, an American and a Dane, while killing
nine pirates, officials and a pirate source said.
The Danish Refugee Council confirmed the two aid workers, American
Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Hagan Thisted, were freed "during an
operation in Somalia." Buchanan, 32, and Thisted, 60, had been working
with a de-mining unit of the Danish Refugee Council when they were
President Barack Obama appeared to refer to the mission before his State
of the Union address in Washington Tuesday night. As he entered the
House chamber in the U.S. Capitol, he pointed at Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta in the crowd and said, "Good job tonight."
A Western official told The Associated Press that the raid was carried
out by U.S. military forces. A second official said the helicopters and
the hostages flew to a U.S. military base called Camp Lemonier in the
Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti. Both officials spoke on condition of
anonymity because the information had not been released publicly.
Panetta visited Camp Lemonier just over a month ago, A key U.S. ally in
this region, Djibouti has the only U.S. base in sub-Saharan Africa. It
hosts the military's Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
The Danish Refugee Council said both freed hostages are unharmed "and at
a safe location." The group said in a separate statement that the two
"are on their way to be reunited with their families."
The two aid workers appear to have been kidnapped by criminals —
sometimes referred to as pirates — and not by Somalia's al-Qaida-linked
militant group al-Shabab. As large ships at sea have increased their
defenses against pirate attacks, gangs have looked for other money
making opportunities like land-based kidnappings.
A pirate who gave his name as Bile Hussein said he had spoken to pirates
at the scene of the raid and they reported that nine pirates had been
killed. A second pirate who gave his name as Ahmed Hashi said two
helicopters attacked at about 2 a.m. at the site where the hostages were
being held about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the Somali town of
Maj. Kelly Cahalan, a military spokeswoman at U.S. Africa Command in
Stuttgart, Germany, said she had no information on the raid. A
spokeswoman at the Pentagon had no immediate comment. U.S. military
rescue operations are typically carried out by highly trained special
The Danish Refugee Council had earlier enlisted traditional Somali
elders and members of civil society to seek the release of the two
hostages. The two were seized in October from the portion of Galkayo
town under the control of a government-allied clan militia. The aid
agency has said that Somalis held demonstrations demanding the pair's
Their Somali colleague was detained by police on suspicion of being involved in their kidnapping.
The two hostages were working in northern Somalia for the Danish
Demining Group, whose experts have been clearing mines and unexploded
ordnance in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East.
Several hostages are still being held in Somalia, including a British
tourist and two Spanish doctors seized from neighboring Kenya, and an
American journalist kidnapped on Saturday.
Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report. Houreld reported from Nairobi. LINK :http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/sources-us-raid-somalia-frees-american-dane-15435981#.Tx_FK4ERHSg
|Liveleak on Facebook|