U.S. Special Forces Rescue Kidnapped Citizen in Nigeria

TAMPA, FL - MAY 23: Special operators assault a simulated terrorist building to search for Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, playing the roll of a dignitary kidnapped by terrorists, while participating in an International Special Operations Forces capabilities exercise, featuring operators from nine different countries, during the Special Operations Forces Industry …
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Nigeria’s center-right People’s Democratic Party (PDP) criticized Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday for his “failure” to guarantee the safety of people’s lives and property in the country after U.S. forces rescued an American citizen held hostage on Saturday.

U.S. special forces rescued Philipe Walton, 27, on October 31 in an operation in northern Nigeria after he was abducted by armed kidnappers on October 27 from his home in neighboring Niger, Reuters reported. The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed the operation in a statement released on Saturday: “This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S. military personnel were injured during the operation.”

In its statement on Sunday, the PDP “described the situation where the U.S. forces had to embark on a rescue mission in Nigeria, as an international embarrassment,” Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper reported.

“Moreover, the fact that under President Muhammadu Buhari, bandits and abductors from neighboring countries now freely cross into our nation to use our soil as detention camps further shows the failure of his administration to secure our national borders and territorial integrity,” the opposition party said.

“It also shows that contrary to claims by the Buhari administration, parts of our country are still under the control of bandits and insurgents,” the PDP added.

“It is indeed grossly disconcerting that under our Commander-in-Chief, a general, who had consistently promised to lead from the front, it took a foreign country to come on our soil to rescue their citizen, while hordes of our citizens are reportedly being held, tortured and killed in various kidnappers’ and insurgents’ dens in various parts of our nation,” the party further said.

“Walton, who kept camels, sheep, and poultry and grew mangoes near the border with Nigeria, was kidnapped by six men armed with assault rifles who arrived on motorcycles at his home in southern Niger’s Massalata village early on Tuesday. … The perpetrators demanded money and searched the home before leaving with Walton,” the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

Most of West Africa’s Sahel region, including northern Nigeria and Niger, has battled a worsening security crisis in recent years; terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have increasingly carried out attacks across the Sahel, targeting both military personnel and civilians.

The attacks persist despite security assistance from the U.S. and France. The Islamic State terror group killed four U.S. soldiers in an ambush attack in Niger in 2017.

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