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Updated: US special forces rescue American held hostage in Nigeria

US special forces rescue American held hostage in Nigeria

The United States on Saturday announced that its citizen held hostage by gunmen in northern Nigeria has been rescued by US special forces and returned safely after a successful operation.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, made available to reporters by the Public Affairs Division of the US Embassy in Abuja.

The American citizen, identified as Philip Walton, 27, was abducted on Tuesday from his home in neighbouring southern Niger, the Guardian of UK reports quoting two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that no US troops were hurt.

“We are committed to the safe return of all U.S. 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,” Pompei said in the statement.

“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,” he said.

The mission, which was several hours long, was conducted by the US Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 who were flown to the region by Air Force special operations, a US official with knowledge of the operation told CNN.

The US forces who conducted the mission killed six of the seven captors, the official said. The US believes the captors have no known affiliation with any terror groups operating in the region, and were more likely bandits seeking money.

The US State Department confirmed earlier this week that a US citizen had been abducted in Niger.

Another statement by Jonathan Hoffman, Assistant to the US Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said US forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of October 31 in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men.

“This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S. military personnel were injured during the operation,” Hoffman said.

“We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation. The United States will continue to protect our people and our interests anywhere in the world,” he said.

President Donald Trump on Saturday thanked the special operations forces for rescuing the American citizen and said more details about the mission would be shared in “a very short period of time”.

“I want to thank the Special Forces. We had a tremendous event happen and really these are incredible people that do this,” Trump told reporters as he departed for a day of campaign travel.