Abuja, Nigeria – In a very discrete operation, US special forces have rescued an American, Philip Walton, in Nigeria who was abducted by armed men in a border town in southern Niger on Tuesday, officials have said.
Walton, 27, who was abducted from his home in neighboring southern Niger was rescued by a squad called SEAL Team 6, the special operations unit which killed Osama bin Laden and rescued Captain Richard Phillips, comprising combined forces including US Naval seals.
The operation is believed to have left many of his abductors dead. US officials say US troops were unhurt during the operation.
Who is Philip Walton?
Philip Walton, an American missionary , kept camels, sheep and poultry and grew mangoes near the border with Nigeria before he was kidnapped by six men armed with assault rifles who arrived on motorcycles at his home in southern Niger’s Massalata village early on Tuesday.
His wife, young daughter and brother were left behind. The perpetrators demanded money and searched the home before leaving with Walton.
Ransom Demanded For His Release
Walton’s abductors demanded more than $1 million from his family members, who are missionaries, for his release before they were overrun by the US special forces.
President Trump Reacts
President Trump called the operation a “Big win” and Pentagon confirmed the operation.
“Big win for our very elite US special forces today,” Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.
The Pentagon confirmed the operation but did not provide the identity of the hostage.
“This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State,” said Jonathan Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs. “The United States will continue to protect our people and our interests anywhere in the world.”
In a statement, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said:
“The United States is committed to the safe return of all US citizens taken captive. We delivered on that commitment late last night in Nigeria, where some of our bravest and most skilled warriors rescued a US citizen after a group of armed men took him hostage across the border in Niger.
“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.”