News / USA

US Forces Rescue Kidnapped Westerners in Somalia

Former Somalia Hostage Dane Poul Hagen Thisted pcitured in an undated file photo.
Former Somalia Hostage Dane Poul Hagen Thisted pcitured in an undated file photo.
Luis Ramirez

U.S. defense officials say an American woman and a Danish man who were kidnapped last October in Somalia are safe, after being rescued by U.S. commandos in a daring operation northwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Pentagon officials say American forces swept into an encampment in the vicinity of the town of Cadaado, northwest of Mogadishu, and pulled American Jessica Buchanan and Poul Thisted, a Danish national, to safety.

US Forces Rescue Kidnapped Westerners in Somalia
US Forces Rescue Kidnapped Westerners in Somalia


Western officials said U.S. special forces arrived aboard helicopters early Wednesday. Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters the kidnappers were heavily armed.

Military Raids to Free Hostages in Somalia

There have been several foreign military operations to free hostages held in Somalia or off its coast. Most of the captives were taken by pirates in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

  • February 22, 2011: Four Americans are killed by their captors aboard their yacht S/V Quest as U.S. forces move to free them.
  • September 9, 2010: U.S. Marines rescue the crew of the German owned Magellan Star seized in the Gulf of Aden.
  • April 27, 2010: Yemeni forces capture the oil tanker Qana seized off Yemen's coast.
  • April 5, 2010: A Dutch navy frigate frees the German cargo ship Taipan taken off the coast of Somalia.
  • February 5, 2010: NATO special forces free 25 crew members of the Slovenian cargo ship Ariella captured in the Gulf of Aden.
  • April 12, 2009: The U.S. Navy rescues Richard Phillips, captain of a captured U.S. vessel, and kills three of his four captors.

“They had explosives nearby and there were very concrete plans for removing the kidnappers and placing them in detention,” said Little.

U.S. officials say that opportunity did not present itself. The raid lasted several hours and by the end of it, U.S. forces had killed nine suspected kidnappers. The Pentagon did not say whether there was an exchange of gunfire. No Americans were killed.

The kidnapped victims were working for a Danish aid agency when they were abducted by gunmen in October.

The raid began as President Barack Obama was preparing to give his State of the Union address Tuesday night in Washington. By the time the president approached the podium to begin his speech, he already had learned that the hostages had been safely retrieved.  

Microphones overheard him praising U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as he entered the room.

“Good job tonight. Good job,” said Obama to Panetta.

Defense officials say the decision to carry out the raid came after getting word Buchanan’s health was deteriorating due to a pre-existing health condition. They did not say what that condition is. After her rescue, she was under the care of  U.S. military medical personnel.  

Defense officials did not disclose her location, but news reports said she was taken to a U.S. base in neighboring Djibouti.  

The operation happened as the Pentagon prepared to release its new budget, which is expected to contain the first significant cuts since the September 11 attacks of 2001. The budget is expected to raise funding for special operations and unconventional warfare teams.

The Obama administration this month announced a new military strategy to create what it says will be a leaner, more agile force. The administration has also said it wants to focus more on Africa, where officials say the State Department-designated terrorist groups al-Shabab and al-Qaida are operating in Somalia.

Pentagon officials described the kidnappers killed in the Somalia raid as criminal suspects and gave no indication of whether they were part of a terrorist network.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid