Philipe Nathan Walton, 27, was abducted this Tuesday from his farm in Massalata in southern Niger by armed kidnappers who demanded a ransom from his father. After this, the US Navy SEALs undertook the mission and rescued him. The operation involved the governments of the US, Nigeria, and Niger working together to rescue Philip.
This military operation was confirmed by the US Department of Defence on Saturday, saying that it took place in northern Nigeria.
The Pentagon chief spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said, “US 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”. “This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the US Department of the State. No US military personnel were injured during the operation.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said in a statement, “Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family. We will never abandon any American taken hostage.”
President Donald Trump even tweeted saying that this is a “big win for our very elite US Special Forces today.” Trump giving the details added, “Last night, at my direction, the United States military conducted a successful operation to rescue an American hostage in Nigeria, kidnapped just 96 hours earlier. United States Special Forces executed a daring night-time operation to rescue their fellow American with exceptional; skills, precision and bravery.”
Walton, a common man who kept camels, sheep and poultry and grew mangoes near the Nigerian border was kidnapped by six armed men who arrived on motorcycles at his home in Niger’s Massalata village. His wife, young daughter and brother were left behind.
Niger’s security crisis:
Niger is facing a deepening security crisis, like other West African countries due to the groups like al-Qaida and ISIS. Also, the Islamic militants are making further inroads into Tillabery, a region on Niger’s border. They carry out attacks on the army and the civilians.
One of the groups, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), was responsible for the ambush of US and Nigerian forces outside the southwestern village of Tongo Tongo in 2017. This ambush resulted in the death of four Americans and four Nigerians.
Nigeria is also been battling Islamist terrorist groups like Boko Haram, and the Islamic State’s West African Province (ISWAP) for many years.
Nigeria has been an important regional partner for the United States in combating terrorism in the region and it is also been aided by the French.