(Editor's Note: This press release was published January 25, 2012. We have reposted due to interest from the recent 60 Minutes News story which recently aired.)
By the order of the President of the United States and under the direction of U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM), early Wednesday morning, January 25, 2012, U.S. Special Operations Forces rescued an American citizen and a Danish citizen from captivity in Somalia.
Mrs. Jessica Buchanan of the United States and Mr. Poul Thisted of Denmark, who both worked for the Danish Demining Group, a non-profit humanitarian organization, were kidnapped at gunpoint on October 25, 2011, near Galcayo, Somalia, and were being held for ransom.
The Department of Justice requested assistance from the Department of Defense, which, in turn, directed U.S. AFRICOM to plan and conduct the rescue operation.
Receiving actionable intelligence, U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted a coordinated operation in the vicinity of Gadaado, Somalia. During the course of the operation, the rescue force patrolled to the location and confirmed the presence of Mrs. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted guarded by nine captors. All nine captors were killed during the assault. After securing the location, U.S. Special Operations Forces found Mrs. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted unharmed in the outdoor encampment.
"Last night's mission, boldly conducted by some of our nation's most courageous, competent, and committed special operations forces, exemplifies United States Africa Command's mission to protect Americans and American interests in Africa," said General Carter F. Ham, commanding general, U.S. Africa Command. "I am extraordinarily proud of the joint-service team that planned, rehearsed and successfully concluded this operation. Thanks to them, a fellow American and her Danish co-worker are safe and will soon be home with their families. We should remember that Mrs. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted were working to protect the people of Somalia when they were violently kidnapped. It is my hope that all those who work in Somalia for the betterment of the Somali people can be free from the dangers of violent criminals."
At the time of their abduction, Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted had finished conducting a demining training course for local Somali citizens.
Statement by Secretary Panetta on Hostage Rescue Operation in Somalia: http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=15024
Statement by President Obama: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/25/statement-president-successful-hostage-rescue