Washington: US President Donald Trump welcomed elite US Special Forces, known to have rescued US citizens kidnapped from a “high-risk raid” in Niger on Saturday.
Trump turned to Twitter to praise America’s elite special forces and said more details would follow. US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that “today we have won a great victory over our elite US special forces.”
American media reported that 27-year-old Philip Nathan Walton, who was kidnapped in Niger on October 26 and demanded ransom money from his relatives, was rescued from a high-risk operation.
US Special Forces reported on Saturday that it had rescued Walton from an operation in northern Nigeria.
Units, including the Navy SEAL, rescued 27-year-old Philip Walton, who was kidnapped from his home in neighboring southern Niger on Tuesday, and two US military officials, subject to anonymity, added that the U.S. forces were not injured.
A source from a Niger diplomat said Walton is now at the residence of the US ambassador in Niamey. White House reporter Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News that the Trump administration has rescued 55 hostages from 24 countries over the years.
The Ministry of Defense confirmed the operation, but did not identify the hostage. Walton, who raised camels, sheep, poultry and grew mangoes near the Nigerian border, was kidnapped early Tuesday by six men armed with AK-47 assault rifles that arrived by motorbike at his home in the town of Masalata in southern Niger.
His wife, young daughter and brother were left behind. The perpetrator appeared to be of Fulani origin and spoke Hausa and English. They asked for money and searched the family home before leaving with Walton.
Niger, like the Sahel region in West Africa, faces a deepening security crisis as al-Qaeda and groups affiliated with the Islamic state attack troops and civilians despite the help of French and American troops.
An ambush in Niger in 2017 killed four American soldiers, sparking debate about the role of the United States in the poorly populated West African desert, home to the world’s poorest countries.
At least six foreign hostages are held by Muslim rebels in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Islamists have raised millions of dollars in ransom in recent years. The US government has frequently criticized payments from other countries.