The U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six has rescued an American missionary who was kidnapped by an armed group last week in the West African nation of Niger, the Pentagon confirmed on Saturday.
Jonathan Hoffman, the public affairs assistant to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, said in a statement that U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of Saturday morning in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen who had been held hostage by a group of armed men. The abduction was not believed to be terror-related.
“This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State,” Hoffman assured. “No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.”
The American citizen is 27-year-old Philip Nathan Walton, who was kidnapped last Tuesday from his farm in the remote southern Niger village of Massalata, which is located near the border with Nigeria.
The captors demanded a ransom of over $1 million from his missionary family members, according to The Washington Post.
An unnamed U.S. official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter told the newspaper that if the ransom was not paid, the captors threatened to turn Walton over to extremist groups in the region.
Northern Nigeria has become a foothold for some terrorist outfits, including groups like Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province and others who have made millions off abduction ransom payments in recent years.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith