U.S. forces have rescued an American hostage in northern Nigeria. Armed gunmen had abducted Philip Walton from his home in neighboring Niger earlier in the week and there were fears he could be sold to terrorists. The kidnappers seized 27-year-old Philip Walton, who kept camels, sheep and poultry and grew mango trees near the border with Nigeria
Reuters was first to report Walton’s abduction from his home in the village of Massalata, which is situated less than five miles north of the border with Nigeria and just over 200 miles east of the country’s capital Niamey, on Oct. 26, 2020. Six gunmen armed with AK-47-type assault rifles are said to have demanded money from the American national, who offered an equivalent to between $35 and $40 in Nigerien francs, and then searched his house, before forcing him to go with them at gunpoint. His wife, daughter, and brother were all there at the time, but were left unharmed, reports The Drive.
The mission was undertaken by a SEAL Team as part of a major effort to free the U.S. citizen before his abductors could get far after taking him captive in Niger on Oct. 26.
“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,” Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement Saturday. “This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State.”
“We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation.”
The operation involved the governments of the U.S., Niger and Nigeria working together to rescue Walton quickly, sources said. The elite SEAL Team Six carried out the rescue mission and killed all but one of the seven captors, according to officials with direct knowledge about the operation.
“They were all dead before they knew what happened,” another counterterrorism source with knowledge told ABC News.
“The United States is committed to the safe return of all U.S. citizens taken captive,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Saturday. “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.”
The statement said no U.S military personnel were injured in the operation.