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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid