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American hostage in Somalia rescued by US Navy Seals

American hostage in Somalia rescued by US Navy Seals

In a daring nighttime raid Tuesday, U.S. Navy SEALs rescued two hostages, including one American, who were being held by kidnappers in Somalia, U.S. officials tell NBC News.

American Jessica Buchanan, 32, and a 60-year-old Dane, Poul Thisted, were working for a Danish relief organization in northern Somalia when they were kidnapped last October. U.S. officials described their kidnappers as heavily armed common criminals with no known ties to any organized militant group.

According to the U.S. officials, two teams of Navy SEALs landed by helicopter near the compound where the two hostages were being held. As the SEALS approached the compound on foot gunfire broke out, the U.S. officials said, and several of the militants were reportedly killed. There is no word that any of the Americans were wounded.

The SEALs gathered up Buchanan and Thisted, loaded them onto the helicopters and flew them to safety at an undisclosed location. The two hostages were not injured during the rescue operation and are reported to be in relatively good condition.

The two had been working for the Danish Refugee Council on a demining project in northern Somalia. The humanitarian group has been providing relief to some 450,000 refugees in the Somalia-Kenya border region.

News reports at the time said the two were kidnapped Oct. 25 along with a Somali colleague when their three-car convoy was stopped on the way to an airport. A self-proclaimed Somali pirate said they had been kidnapped for ransom by pirates stymied by Western nations’ efforts to stop the seizure of ships off the coast. The fate of the Somali colleague was unclear.

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