Philip Walton: US citizen freed from kidnappers in dramatic rescue operation by Navy SEALS in Nigeria

The 27-year-old American had been abducted from his home on Tuesday

Gino Spocchia
Saturday 31 October 2020 18:14 GMT
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US special forces have rescued an American citizen who was kidnapped by armed men in an operation on Saturday in northern Nigeria, US officials said.

Forces including Navy SEALs rescued 27-year-old Philip Walton, who had been abducted on Tuesday from his home in neighbouring Niger, two US officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity, adding that no US troops were hurt. 

Several of the captors were reportedly killed in the mission, carried out by SEAL Team 6, the special operations unit which killed Osama bin Laden and rescued Captain Richard Phillips. 

A diplomat source in Niger said Mr Walton is now at the US ambassador's residence in Niamey.

"Big win for our very elite US Special Forces today," Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News that the Trump administration had over the years rescued 55 hostages in 24 countries.

The Pentagon confirmed the operation but did not provide the identity of the hostage. 

In statement to ABC News, 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 U.S. Department of State. No US military personnel were injured during the operation,” he added. "We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation."

Mr Walton is reportedly a farmer who keeps camels, sheep and poultry and grows mangoes near the Niger-Nigeria border. He was kidnapped by six men armed with AK-47 assault rifles who arrived on motorcycles at his home in southern Niger's Massalata village early on Tuesday, and later demanded money.

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