Dramatic details of an overnight US raid in which two aid workers for the Danish Demining Group were freed from Somali pirates have begun to emerge.
It is thought that nine kidnappers were killed and another six arrested when Navy Seals parachuted into a compound in the village of Hiimo Gaabo.
Dane Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, and American Jessica Buchanan, 32, were rescued unscathed after being held by the pirates for three months. The two aid workers were taken hostage in Galkayo on 25th October last year when attending a seminar. At least one of their bodyguards had a hand in the kidnapping, according to the local police chief.
The decision to storm the pirates’ stronghold was apparently made because the health of one of the captives was failing. Talking to TV2, Denmark’s foreign minister Villy Soevndal, said Miss Buchanan “has a disease that was very serious and that had to be solved”.
US forces secured Galkayo Airport before heading out with several helicopters to Hiimo Gaabo, 100km away. According to one source, the Somalis had been chewing on coca leaves and were asleep when the raid began. Heavy fire between both sides was exchanged, but there are no reported US casualties.
“There are some 12 American helicopters right now at Galkayo. Our thanks go to the United States. The pirates have wrecked our peace and morale. They are a mafia,” President of Galmudug, Mohamed Ahmed Alim, told Reuters.
According a report by NBC News, when American President Barack Obama stepped into the House Chambers to deliver his State of the Union address last Tuesday, he pointed to Defence Secretary Leon E Panetta and said, “Leon. Good job tonight. Good job tonight,” in what is thought to be a reference to the raid.