herald

Thursday 21 September 2017

Bin Laden kill team rescues pirate hostage

special forces from the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden rescued hostages from Somali pirates who kidnapped them three months ago.

Two small teams of US Navy Seals, accompanied by support troops, swept into the pirates' heartland under cover of darkness this week.

The operation, ordered by President Barack Obama, was the first time that US boots were officially admitted to have been on Somali soil since the infamous Black Hawk Down mission in 1993.



ILLNESS

The president said in a statement that he "could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission".

The special forces flew from Djibouti, a tiny nation on Africa's Red Sea coast that hosts a large US military base, to Galkayo, the largest Somali town close to pirate territory.

From there, at least two helicopters carrying soldiers from the Navy's Seal Team 6, the company that killed the al-Qa'ida leader in Pakistan last year, continued deeper into Somalia.

Shortly after 2am local time, they landed in a remote village pinpointed by US intelligence as the location where Jessica Buchanan, an American aid worker suffering from a serious illness, and Poul Thisted, from Denmark, were being held.

Advancing on foot, they caught the kidnappers by surprise.

Most were asleep, according to sources in Somalia.

The two hostages were found unharmed in a corner of the pirates' ramshackle compound, which was described by US officials as an "outdoor encampment".

An hour later, after a fierce gun battle in which all nine pirates were killed, the Seals were airborne again, with the two aid workers safely on board and heading home 92 days after they were abducted. No American troops were injured in the raid.

President Obama said that as a parent, he sympathised with the father of the hostages. Obama spoke to Jessica Buchanan's father, John, after she was rescued.



DAUGHTERS

He praised him for staying strong during his daughter's months-long kidnapping and said the ordeal made him think of his own daughters, Malia and Sasha. Obama said he had not talked to the rescued woman.

The raid unfolded just before Obama's State of the Union address.

hnews@herald.ie

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