An American citizen, who had been kidnapped from his home in southern Niger, has been rescued by commandos from the Navy's elite SEAL Team 6. The 27-year-old American was rescued from neighboring northern Nigeria where he had been taken by his captors. Their location was discovered by tracking their cell phones.
A Pentagon spokesman said, "U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 Oct. in northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men," and that the victim "is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State." Another official said that the victim had been taken to an American airbase in Niamey, Niger's capital, to reunite with his family. No American military personnel were injured during the operation, but all but one of the captors were killed in the raid, with one escaping. The victim was not injured in the firefight.
The American is the son of missionaries and lives with his wife and young daughter on a farm near Massalata, a small village close to the border with Nigeria. American and Nigerien officials had said that he was seized from his backyard a few days earlier in front of family members after armed assailants asked him for money. He offered them $40 and was then taken away by the gunmen on motorbikes, the officials said. The captors demanded nearly one million dollars in ransom for his release.
One American official said the assailants were criminals who intended to sell the victim to terrorist groups in the region. The operation was organized quickly with the assistance of officials in Niger and Nigeria. "Navy Commandos Rescue American Kidnapped in Niger" www.nytimes.com (Oct. 31, 2020).