By Nancy A. Youssef
U.S military commandos rescued an American being held in Nigeria after he had been kidnapped from his home in neighboring Niger days earlier, the Pentagon said Saturday.
Defense officials identified the American as Philipe Nathan Walton, 27, who had been taken Oct. 26 from his farm in Massalata, Niger, by attackers who demanded ransom. Massalata is near Niger’s border with Nigeria. Mr. Walton was living there with his wife and young daughter, officials said.
During the predawn operation, led by members of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, U.S. forces killed six of Mr. Walton’s seven captors, defense officials said.
“This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. “No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.”
In a tweet, President Trump called the operation a “big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces.”
SEAL Team Six took off for the mission from Rota, Spain, defense officials said.
Defense officials said they didn’t believe Mr. Walton’s kidnappers were tied to terrorism, however, they feared he could be sold to one of several terrorist groups operating nearby. Groups backed both by al Qaeda and Islamic State extremist groups operate in Niger and throughout Africa’s Sahel region, an area of growing militant activity, U.S. and Western officials have said.
The operation Saturday was conducted in conjunction with the governments of Niger and Nigeria, defense officials said.
Write to Nancy A. Youssef at [email protected]
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Appeared in the November 2, 2020, print edition as ‘U.S. Commandos Rescue American Held in Nigeria.’