Wednesday, January 25, 2012

U.S. Military Raid in Somalia Frees Dane, American

Via USA Today -

The Navy Seals that rescued two aide workers in Somalia were not dealing with al-Qaeda-linked militant groups but pirate-gangs that have been terrorizing the region kidnapping people and holding them for ransoms.

The raid under cover of darkness on Wednesday freed American Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, a Dane, who were "on their way to be reunited with their families," the Danish Refugee Council said Wednesday.

President Obama authorized the mission by SEAL Team 6, the same unit that was behind the operation in Pakistan last May that killed Osama bin Laden.

One official who spoke on the condition he would remain anonymous told the Associated Press that the team parachuted into the area before moving on foot to the target. Nine kidnappers were killed. The raid happened near the Somali town of Adado.

The SEAL raid shows the the United States is "more willing to confront pirates than it has in the past," says Derek Reveron, a professor at the Naval War College.

It also suggests a growing willingness to use its special operations forces, which is riskier than drone strikes.

"Clearly it was a good target of opportunity," Reveron says. "But it also strikes me as pretty significant, parachuting SEALs into Somalia."

As large ships at sea have increased their defenses against pirate attacks, gangs have looked for other money making opportunities like land-based kidnappings.

It is not clear what impact the raid will have on piracy in the region.

But the number of successful pirate hijackings on shipping has dropped dramatically in 2011 in the Horn of Africa region. The number of successful pirate attacks fell to 24 last year, from 45 in 2010, according to NATO.

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