United States President, Donald Trump, has hailed the country’s Special Operations soldiers who rescued 27-year-old American, Philip Watson, in northern Nigeria.
Trump saluted the soldiers in a post on Twitter.
“Last night, our country’s brave warriors rescued an American hostage in Nigeria. Our nation salutes the courageous soldiers behind the daring nighttime rescue operation and celebrates the safe return of yet another American citizen,” Trump tweeeted.
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in a statement, said the US was committed to the safety of its citizens in all parts of the world.
“We delivered on that commitment late last night in Nigeria, where some of our bravest and most skilled warriors rescued a US citizen after a group of armed men took him hostage across the border in Niger.
“Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals, and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family. We will never abandon any American taken hostage,” Pompeo said.
The American citizen, Watson, was kidnapped on Tuesday in Masalata region, Niger, and the Pentagon said US Navy SEAL Team Six led the overnight operation in northern Nigeria, where fighters loyal to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State had bases.
It noted that none of the service members was injured in the raid.
The newspaper quoting a US official who was not authorised to speak on the matter said the assailants forced Watson from his farm in remote Masalata on Tuesday, demanding more than $1m from his family, who are missionaries, and threatened to sell him to extremists.
The Guardian (US) reported that Trump, in a statement issued as he campaigned in Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon, said, “Last night, at my direction, the United States military conducted a successful operation to rescue an American hostage in Nigeria, kidnapped just 96 hours earlier. United States Special Forces executed a daring nighttime operation to rescue their fellow American with exceptional skill, precision and bravery … The former hostage is currently in good health and has been reunited with his family.’’
Walton reportedly reared camels, sheep and poultry and grew mangoes near the border with Nigeria. He was said to have been abducted by six men armed with assault rifles on motorcycles who forcibly took him away.
His abductors left his wife, young daughter and brother behind.