Western Hostages Freed From Somalia Return Home

on January 31 2012 12:09 PM

The two Western hostages who were freed from Somalia last week returned home on Monday.

Jessica Buchanan, the American hostage, flew back to Pennsylvania from a U.S. military base in Italy. Prior to Jessica's arrival, her father, John, told ABC News: We're all extremely excited about [her return]. Obviously, I mean, I can't really express it in words what it's going to be like to see her.

He also praised his daughter's strength and commented on her health, saying that she is still physically on the mend but doing great psychologically.

Jessica Buchanan and her Danish colleague Poul Hagen Thisted were working for the Danish Demining Group (DDG), a unit of the Danish Refugee Council, near Galkayo, Somalia when they were kidnapped on October 25.

The DDG is a non-profit organization that strives to clear environments of landmines in several countries around the world. According to Buchanan's LinkedIn profile, she served the DDG as a regional education adviser. The Associated Press reported that the DDG had been trying to work with Somali leaders on freeing the hostages, but to no avail.

Last week, U.S. Special Operations Forces went in to rescue the two hostages from their Somali kidnappers on orders from President Barack Obama -- reportedly due to Buchanan's failing health.

The rescue mission took place overnight as U.S. Navy SEALs were parachuted near the site of the kidnappers' camp, leading to a shoot-out that left nine kidnappers dead, but no American casualties.

The two hostages were subsequently transported to Camp Lemmonier in Djibouti -- the only U.S. base on the African continent.

Buchanan's father thanked Obama and also praised the FBI and the Navy SEAL unit for their efforts to rescue his daughter. (According to reports, the same SEAL unit also killed Osama bin Laden in a commando raid in Pakistan last May.)

We just can't thank them enough for risking their lives, he said.

Commenting on the successful raid, Obama declared: 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.

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