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January 25, 2012

Somali Government Backs US Hostage Rescue

The Somali government says it supports the U.S. military operation that freed two Western aid workers who had been held hostage in the war-ravaged country.

In a statement released Thursday, Somalia's transitional government said the rescue of Jessica Buchanan, an American, and Poul Thisted, a Dane, was a "great joy" to "right-thinking people everywhere."

Buchanan and Thisted were rescued Wednesday when U.S. special forces attacked the kidnappers' camp northwest of Mogadishu, killing nine of them.

The Somali government praised the operation, saying that "hitting them hard" is the only language that kidnappers, pirates, and terrorists understand.

The government also said it would do everything it can to assist in the release of other hostages held in Somalia.

Buchanan and Thisted worked for a Danish humanitarian group that helps clear land mines and other explosives in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East. They were kidnapped in October in the central Somali city of Galkayo.

The freed woman's brother Stephen Buchanan said the mission was going well until about three months ago.

"Someone from their own team turned against them, divulged information that made them susceptible to being kidnapped," he said.

The Somali government said its people "could have no better friends," and praised Buchanan and Thisted for "risking their lives" to help make the country safe for children.

The Pentagon said Wednesday that Buchanan is being cared for at a military hospital, reportedly in Djibouti. Officials said the operation was carried out in part because of reports that her health had been failing.

Officials say armed criminals, or pirates, appear to be responsible for the kidnapping.  Somali pirates have increasingly carried out land-based kidnappings as foreign governments have boosted security on the high seas.

Several abductions for ransom have been carried out in Somalia and northern Kenya during the past several months.  An American man was kidnapped near the Galkayo airport last week.