Washington, DC — American Special Forces troops have rescued two Western aid workers held hostage in Somalia for three months, President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday.
His Defense Secretary, Leon E. Panetta, said the two - Jessica Buchanan, an American employed by the Danish Demining Group, and her Danish colleague, Poul Thisted - were kidnapped at gunpoint near Galcayo, on the Ethiopian border, on October 25.
They were rescued unharmed on Monday and there were no American casualties, Panetta said. Vice President Joe Biden told ABC News that the operation was approved because one of the captives had health problems.
"The rescue force patrolled to the location and confirmed the presence of Mrs. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted guarded by nine captors," the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) said in a statement describing the operation. "All nine captors were killed during the assault."
"Jessica Buchanan was selflessly serving her fellow human beings when she was taken hostage by criminals and pirates who showed no regard for her health and well-being," Obama said. "The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to bring their captors to justice."
Panetta said the two workers would be returned home after their health had been checked. The operation had been carried out in coordination with the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The American Forces Press Service reports that the Danish Demining Group trains locals to defuse and render safe landmines and other miltary ordnance, and works in Somalia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Liberia, South Sudan and Uganda. In a statement issued on January, the Deming Group said the 32 year-old Buchanan and 60 year-old Thisted "were on a field trip to monitor humanitarian aid activities in the region as they were abducted by a group of armed men."