MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — U.S. Navy SEALs parachuted into Somalia under cover of darkness early Wednesday and crept up to an outdoor camp where an American woman and Danish man were being held hostage. Soon, nine kidnappers were dead and both hostages were freed.
President Barack Obama authorized the mission by SEAL Team 6 two days earlier, deploying the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden last year. Minutes after the president gave his State of the Union address to Congress he was on the phone with the American's father to tell him his daughter was safe.
The Danish Refugee Council confirmed the two aid workers, American Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, a Dane, were "on their way to be reunited with their families."
Buchanan, 32, and Thisted, 60, were working with a de-mining unit of the Danish Refugee Council when gunmen kidnapped the two in October.
The raiders came in quickly, catching the guards as they were sleeping after having chewed the narcotic leaf qat for much of the evening, a pirate who gave his name as Bile Hussein told The Associated Press by phone. Hussein said he was not present at the site but had spoken with other pirates who were, and that they told him nine pirates had been killed in the raid and three were "taken away."
The hostage rescue was carried out by the same SEAL unit behind the operation in Pakistan last May that killed bin Laden, two U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity to discuss the operation. It was not clear if any members participated in both operations. The unit is the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team 6.
One official said that the team parachuted into the area before moving on foot to the target. The raid happened near the Somali town of Adado.