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The elite commandos jumped out of a U.S. Air Force transport plane a few miles from the target. Without suffering any casualties, the SEALs rescued Philip Walton, 27, after killing a number of his captors.
Walton had been taken hostage by armed men last week, officials told Fox News.
One U.S. official briefed on the mission tells Fox News it would not have been successful without the help from other military services and the intelligence community.
“It was an extraordinary team effort with different parts of the joint force making this happen,” the official said.
President Donald Trump tweeted out a show of support, calling the SEAL team members “brave warriors,” and saying that “our nation salutes the courageous soldiers behind the daring nighttime rescue operation.” In a separate tweet, Trump described the operation as a “big win” for the elite force.
Speaking before a crowd in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump added: “The kidnappers wished they had never done it. We got our American citizen, we got our young man back, but the other side suffered gravely.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told “Fox & Friends” that the decision to pull the trigger on the operation was “tough,” but that ultimately the president prioritizes the safety of American citizens.
“They’re very tough ones to make because … it has to be conducted just perfectly,” McEnany said.
She added: “A lot of keeping things quiet until that moment when you get the go-ahead, and I was talking to some of our soldiers and they said to me, ‘We pray to get the green light.'”
Walton was kidnapped in Niger, where he lives. The rescue took place in northern Nigeria, which neighbors Niger, early Saturday, officials said.
SEAL Team 6 was chosen for the operation because they are responsible for West Africa, Fox News has learned.
“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,” Jonathan Hoffman, chief Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
“No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation,” Hoffman added. “We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the government made good on its pledge to safely return all American citizens taken captive.
“We delivered on that commitment late last night in Nigeria, where some of our bravest and most skilled warriors rescued a U.S. citizen after a group of armed men took him hostage across the border in Niger,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“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,” he said.
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