The U.S. soldiers who rescued two aid workers in Somalia on Tuesday night were with SEAL Team Six, the same Navy SEAL team that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, an administration official told The Associated Press on Wednesday morning.
The hostages, an American woman and a Danish man who worked for the Danish Refugee Council, were taken months ago by Somali pirates who allegedly conspired with security guards hired to protect the pair.
President Barack Obama said he had authorized the daring raid on Monday, and it was executed in the early hours of Wednesday morning. At least eight of their captors were killed in the raid, witnesses told Agence France-Presse. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said there were no U.S. casualties.
A mission in Afghanistan last August saw 30 U.S. troops killed after a helicopter was downed by Taliban fighters. Members of SEAL Team Six were among the dead, according to military officials.
The rescue mission couldn’t have come at a better time for President Obama, either: even as the raid was on, he was giving the annual State of the Union address to Congress, which he opened by speaking about the SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden, reminding Americans of one of his presidency’s greatest accomplishments.
“All that mattered that day was the mission,” he said Tuesday night. “No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. So it is with America.”
Ahead of the speech, he shook the hand of his defense secretary, telling Panetta: “Good job tonight.” He made no references to the raid in his speech.
“The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to bring their captors to justice,” Obama explained on Wednesday morning, in a prepared statement about the Somali raid. “This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people.”
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