“US forces carried out a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of October 31 in northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen who had been taken hostage by a group of militants. This American citizen is safely and is now in the care of the US State Department.” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. No American soldier was injured during the operation. “
“We appreciate the support of our international partners in carrying out this process. The United States will continue to protect our people and our interests anywhere in the world.”
A US official familiar with the operation told CNN that the mission, which took several hours, was conducted by an elite SEAL 6 team of the Navy who were transported to the area by Air Force Special Operations.
The official said that the US forces that carried out the mission killed six of the seven hijackers. The United States believes that the kidnappers have no known affiliation with any terrorist groups operating in the area, and were most likely highwaymen seeking money.
The State Department confirmed earlier this week that a US citizen had been kidnapped in Niger.
Local media reported that the American citizen was a missionary. CNN was unable to confirm the identity of the citizen.
Various local media quoted the governor of the local region in which the kidnapping took place, and French media reported from Niger, as saying that six men on motorcycles armed with AK-47 rifles came to the man’s property in the village of Masalata, near the town of Masalata. The border with Nigeria.
Governor Abdul Rahman Musa told these media outlets that after asking for money, the men took the American citizen with them towards the Nigerian border.
A spokesman for the US State Department said, “When a US citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they conduct their search efforts, and share information with families as we can.”
On Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the American citizen would be reunited with his family.
“Thanks to the courage and extraordinary capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family,” Pompeo said in a statement. We will never leave an American hostage. “
On Saturday, President Donald Trump thanked the special operations forces for rescuing the American citizen, and said that more details about the mission would be published in “a very short period of time.”
“I want to thank the Special Forces. There’s been a tremendous event, and really these are amazing people doing that,” Trump told reporters as he was leaving for a day traveling in the campaign.
This story has been updated with additional reports.
Veronica Stracowallorsi, Nicole Jawitt, Tim Lester and Alison Mayne contributed to this report.