President Obama on Jan. 23 deployed a Navy SEAL unit to execute the successful rescue of two aid workers held by Somali pirates in a daring nighttime operation.

The two hostages, American Jessica Buchanan, 32 and her Danish colleague, Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, were working in the country to assist in the clearing of field mines through the Danish council’s Danish Demining Group. They were visiting relief projects in central Somalia when they were taken on Oct. 25, according to CNN.

Pirates in the area often target foreigners at sea and on land, and had demanded $10 million for the release of the two, previously refusing an offer of $1 million for their freedom.

In a statement, Obama said the mission is “yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people.”

According to CBS News, two teams from the famed “SEAL Team Six” unit parachuted into Somalia and engaged in a firefight with the nine gunmen holding the two aid workers, killing all nine while sustaining no injuries. The SEALs and the liberated hostages were picked up by Army helicopters.

After stepping away from the podium where he delivered his State of the Union Address, President Obama phoned the father of Jessica Buchanan, John Buchanan, to inform him of the good news, according to CNN. John Buchanan said the president referred to his own daughters and his bond with them, and Buchanan said he planned to be reunited with his rescued daughter later that week.

Somalia’s government, which is currently in transition, issued a statement calling the operation a great joy to the Somali government and to all Somalis as well as to all right thinking people everywhere.”

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer