US forces rescue American hostage in Nigeria

Army Times:

American troops on Saturday morning rescued an American citizen taken hostage last week in Niger, according to a statement from the Pentagon.

“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,” said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman in a media release. “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.”

The hostage, Philipe Nathan Walton, was taken from his farm in Massalata in southern Niger early Tuesday morning by armed kidnappers who demanded a ransom from the man’s father.

The mission was undertaken by elite commandos as part of a major effort to free Walton, 27, before his abductors could get far after taking him captive in Niger on Oct. 26, counterterrorism officials told ABC News.

Niger has faced a growing number of attacks by extremists linked to both the Islamic State group and to al-Qaida. The kidnapping comes two months after IS-linked militants killed six French aid workers and their Niger guide while they were visiting a wildlife park east of the capital.

Hoffman would not comment on anything beyond his initial statement.

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