An American citizen who was kidnapped in Niger has been rescued in Northern Nigeria by SEAL Team 6 in a high-risk raid.
Philip Walton, 27, was kidnapped by armed men last week in Niger, where he lives. He was rescued early Saturday in a neighboring country, northern Nigeria.
The brave SEALs responsible for West Africa rescued Walton after killing his captors. All but one of the seven captors was killed in the mission, according to ABC News.
‘They were all dead before they knew what happened,’ a source told the network.
The elite commandos parachuted into Nigeria and rescued the American, without suffering any casualties, Fox News reported.
“We had to get him before any potential trade or sale,” one U.S. official said.
“U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 October in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men,” Jonathan Hoffman, chief Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
“No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation,” Hoffman added. “We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation.”
Shortly after the raid, President Trump tweeted;
“Last night, our Country’s brave warriors rescued an American hostage in Nigeria”. “Our Nation salutes the courageous soldiers behind the daring nighttime rescue operation and celebrates the safe return of yet another American citizen!”, he added
Last night, our Country’s brave warriors rescued an American hostage in Nigeria. Our Nation salutes the courageous soldiers behind the daring nighttime rescue operation and celebrates the safe return of yet another American citizen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2020
Speaking before a crowd in Pennsylvania Saturday morning, Trump added: “The kidnappers wished they had never done it. We got our American citizen, we got our young man back, but the other side suffered gravely.”
President Trump described the operation as a “big win” for the elite force, in a separate tweet.
The New York Times reports that about 30 Navy commandos parachuted into the remote area where the kidnappers had taken Walton early Saturday morning. They hiked about three miles until they came upon the captors’ small encampment.
An intense but brief gunfight followed in which one captor escaped.
Walton was not harmed and whisked from the camp to a makeshift landing zone where a U.S. helicopter brought him to safety.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told “Fox & Friends” that the decision to pull the trigger on the operation was “tough,” but that ultimately the president prioritizes the safety of American citizens.
“They’re very tough ones to make because … it has to be conducted just perfectly,” McEnany said.
She added: “A lot of keeping things quiet until that moment when you get the go-ahead, and I was talking to some of our soldiers and they said to me, ‘We pray to get the green light.'”
“Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals, and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family. We will never abandon any American taken hostage,” U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.