Wednesday, January 25, 2012
NPR In a daring raid reminiscent of the kind used to kill Osama bin Laden, U.S. Navy SEALs swooped into Somalia Wednesday morning and rescued two aid workers, who had been held by pirates for months.
The New York Times reports the soldiers came in by parachute and engaged in a firefight that killed nine pirates. The SEALs left with Jessica Buchanan, a 32-year-old American, and a 60-year-old Dane, Poul Thisted (in a helicopter ) who were injury free and on their way home.
President Obama authorized the mission on Monday and by the time he stepped into the House chambers last night for his State of the Union address, he knew the mission had been successful. As ABC News reports, that explains why Obama detoured to thank Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on his way in.
"According to the U.S. officials, two teams of Navy SEALs parachuted 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 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 president issued a statement, this morning, praising the Special Operations forces.
"Last night I spoke with Jessica Buchanan's father and told him that all Americans have Jessica in our thoughts and prayers, and give thanks that she will soon be reunited with her family," Obama said in a statement. "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. This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people."
The New York Times reports that the raid began at about 3 a.m. local time. By morning, the bodies of nine pirates were taken to the nearby city of Hiimo Gaabo and local leaders tell the Times three to six pirates were captured.
According to the Danish Refugee Council, Buchanan and Thisted were kidnapped while working for the humanitarian organization's de-mining unit. They were held hostage for three months.
Some of the kidnappings have been blamed on the Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, while others seem to have been carried out by criminals seeking ransoms.
President Barack Obama said he authorized the raid. He thanked the Special Operations forces for their "extraordinary courage and capabilities," but did not provide details on the fatalities.
"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," Obama said in a statement. "This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people."
Before news broke of the rescue, Obama told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, "Leon, good job tonight. Good job tonight," at the State of the Union address.
Panetta later said in a statement that the raid "is a testament to the superb skills of courageous service members who risked their lives to save others."
Posted by Steve Douglass at 3:11 AM