The elite SEAL Team 6 staged a daring raid in the West African country of Nigeria, rescuing Philip Walton, 27, who had been taken hostage, officials told Fox News.
“We had to get him before any potential trade or sale,” one U.S. official said.
President Donald Trump tweeted out a show of support, calling the operation a “big win” for the elite force, and promised further details.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told “Fox & Friends” that the decision to pull the trigger on the operation was “tough,” but that ultimately the pesident prioritizes the safety of American citizens.
“They’re very tough ones to make because you’re right it has to be conducted just perfectly,” McEnany said. “But the President always puts the American interest first on it it takes a lot of planning.”
“A lot of keeping things quiet until that moment when you get the go ahead and I was talking to some of our soldiers and they said to me, we pray to get the green light.”
Walton was kidnapped in Niger, which borders Nigeria, earlier this week. The hostage rescue took place in northern Nigeria earlier today.
The SEALs rescued Walton after killing a number of his captors. SEAL Team 6 was chosen for the operation because they are responsible for West Africa, Fox News has learned.
“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,” Jonathan Hoffman, chief Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
“No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation,” Hoffman added. “We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the government “delievered on the commitment” to safely return all American citizens taken captive.
“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,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals, and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family. We will never abandon any American taken hostage.”