Washington: United States President Donald Trump on Saturday hailed the elite US Special Forces after they reportedly rescued a kidnapped American national in a “high-risk raid” in Niger.
Trump took to Twitter to praise the elite US Special Forces and said that more details will follow. “Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today,” U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.
Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today. Details to follow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2020
US media reported that Philipe Nathan Walton, 27, who was abducted in Niger on October 26 and gunmen demanded a ransom from his relatives, was rescued in a high-risk operation.
The US special forces rescued Walton in an operation on Saturday in northern Nigeria that is believed to have killed several of his captors, reports said.
Forces including Navy SEALs rescued 27-year-old Philip Walton, who had been abducted on Tuesday from his home in neighboring southern Niger, two US officials said on condition of anonymity, adding that no US troops were hurt.
A diplomat source in Niger said Walton is now at the US ambassador`s residence in Niamey. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News that the Trump administration had over the years rescued 55 hostages in 24 countries.
The Pentagon confirmed the operation but did not provide the identity of the hostage. Walton, who kept camels, sheep and poultry and grew mangoes near the border with Nigeria, was kidnapped by six men armed with AK-47 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 appeared to be from the Fulani ethnic group, and that they spoke Hausa and some English. They demanded money and searched the family`s home before leaving with Walton.
Niger, like much of West Africa`s Sahel region, faces a deepening security crisis as groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State carry out attacks on the army and civilians, despite help from French and US forces.
Four US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger in 2017, sparking debate about the United States` role in the sparsely populated West African desert that is home to some of the world`s poorest countries.
At least six foreign hostages are being held by Islamist insurgents in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Islamists have collected millions of dollars in ransom payments in recent years. The US government has frequently criticized other countries for paying.