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American Hostage Kidnapped In Niger Rescued in Nigeria

An American kidnapped earlier in the week was rescued by United States Navy SEAL Team 6 in a daring raid early on Saturday. 

Philip Walton, 27, was kidnapped from his farm in Massalata, southern Niger, close to the border with Nigeria and held for ransom by unknown gunmen.

ABC News reported on Saturday that Walton was rescued “during a high-risk U.S. military raid in neighbouring Nigeria

“The mission was undertaken by elite commandos as part of a major effort to free the U.S. citizen, Philip Walton, 27, before his abductors could get far after taking him captive in Niger on October 26, counterterrorism officials told ABC News, ” the report said.

Sources told ABC News that the operation involved the governments of the U.S., Niger and Nigeria working together to rescue Walton quickly.

“The elite SEAL Team 6 carried out the rescue mission and killed all but one of the captors, according to officials with direct knowledge about the operation.

“Nigerien and American officials told ABC News that they believed the captors were from an armed group from Nigeria and that it was not considered terror-related. But hostages are often sold to terrorist groups, ” the report said.

The network added that concern grew quickly after the kidnapping that an opportunity to rescue Walton could become much more dangerous if he was taken by or sold to a group of Islamist militants aligned with either al Qaeda or ISIS and American special operations commanders felt they needed to act swiftly before that could occur, said one counterterrorism official briefed on the hostage recovery operations.

HumAngle previously reported on the transnational movement of armed groups and the presence of violent extremist groups aligned to Al Qaeda and ISIS in Northwestern Nigeria.

The rescue operations makes the first known transfer of a hostage from Niger to Nigeria and ground operations by the U.S. military in Nigeria.

In a Statement,  Jonathan Hoffman, Chief Pentagon Spokesman said:  “U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 October in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men. This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.

“We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation.”

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means without proper attribution to HumAngle, generally including the author's name, a link to the publication and a line of acknowledgement.

Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Education from the University of Abuja.

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