26 Jan 2012

US raid frees Somalia hostages

6:16 am on 26 January 2012

US special forces have carried out a raid in Somalia to rescue two kidnapped aid workers.

American Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Poul Thisted, 60, of Denmark were abducted in the semi-autonomous Galmudug region in October while working for the Danish Demining Group.

US officials have confirmed that elite US Navy Seals were dropped into Somalia to carry out the overnight operation which resulted in a shoot-out, the BBC reports.

The aid workers were freed uninjured while all nine captors were reportedly killed during the assault.

Media reports say the freed hostages have been flown to neighbouring Djibouti.

A BBC correspondent says Wednesday's rescue is the highest profile US action in Somalia since it pulled its forces out of the country in 1994.

A Pentagon official has confirmed to the BBC that the unit involved was the elite Seal Team Six, which killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan last May, although the same personnel were not necessarily involved.

Dozens of people are still being held hostage in Somalia, mainly crew of ships seized for ransom by pirate gangs.

A US journalist and two Spanish medics seized from neighbouring Kenya are among those still held.