American, Danish kidnap victims rescued in Somalia

Pirates leave a merchant vessel that they seized for the Somali shore in September 2008. U.S. military forces freed aid workers kidnapped by pirates in October 2011. Photo by: Jason R. Zalasky / U.S. Navy

U.S. military forces came like a thief in the night on Wednesday (Jan. 25) in Somalia, taking with them two foreign aid workers kidnapped by pirates in October.

The military forces freed American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Thisted, who have been in captivity for three months. The two were abducted near the town of Galkayo in Putland along with a Somali colleague, who later on was detained by police on suspicion of being involved in the kidnapping. The Danish Refugee Council, which runs the Danish Demining Group that employ the two, said they are now on their way to be reunited with their families.

Two helicopters attacked the site — 20 kilometers north of Adado — where the hostages were being held, according to a pirate named Ahmed Hashi. Another pirate, who identified himself as Bile Hussein, said those present at the scene told him nine pirates had been killed, The Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama, in a statement released by the White House, praised the troops that carried out the raid. Obama said he authorized the rescue mission, which took place just before he delivered his 2012 State of the Union address.

Early January, two abducted Spanish aid workers working for Médecins Sans Frontières have also been reportedly sold to pirates from Somalia’s Mudug region. No word yet on their whereabouts.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.