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U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six Rescues Aid Workers Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted from Somali Pirates

In a dramatic night raid in hostile territory, U.S. Navy SEALs rescued a pair of aid workers, one of them American, who were being held captive by Somali pirates.

The Daily Mail reports that U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six– the same special forces unit that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last year– rescued 32-year-old Jessica Buchanan of Rosslyn, Virginia and 60-year-old Poul Hagen Thisted of Denmark about 12 miles (19 km) north of the town of Adow. The pair had been working with the Danish De-mining Group in Galmudug, northern Somalia, clearing unexploded ordnance when they were abducted by pirates last October.

Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal cited Buchanan’s poor health as an impetus for the rescue. The hostage may have been suffering from a kidney infection.

Nine pirates were killed and five captured during a fierce firefight that ensued after the SEALs caught the pirates by surprise. Neither of the hostages were hurt.

“This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people,” President Obama said after the operation. “As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts.”

The daring rescue mission was carried out by the same SEAL team that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan last May, although the team members were different. 

President Obama was overheard congratulating Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta as he walked in to the House of Representatives chamber in Washington, D.C. to deliver his fourth State of the Union address last evening. “Leon, good job tonight. Good job tonight,” the President said in reference to the rescue mission. Obama did not mention the raid in his speech and viewers had no idea what he was talking about when he spoke to Panetta.

The President phoned Buchanan’s father John to tell him that “all Americans have Jessica in our thoughts and prayers, and give thanks that she will soon be reunited with her family.” 

“Jessica Buchanan was selflessly serving her fellow human beings when she was taken hostage by criminals and pirates who showed no regard for her health and well-being,” Obama declared after her rescue. 

Reverend Don Meyer of Valley Forge Christian College in Pennsylvania, Buchanan’s alma mater, told the Daily Mail:

“She fell in love with Africa. She could hardly talk about Africa without tears in her eyes. Her life story is a model of what we prepare our students to do. It’s thrilling beyond words.”

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