DAKAR — United States Special Forces on Saturday rescued an American citizen who had been kidnapped in southern Niger last week, a U.S. official with knowledge of the mission said.
U.S. Navy SEAL team led the overnight mission into northern Nigeria, where fighters loyal to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have established hideouts.
No soldiers were injured in the operation, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the rescue publicly.
No group has asserted responsibility for the abduction, which happened near Birnin Konni in Niger.
The American, who has lived in Niger for years, has returned to the capital, Niamey. Armed attackers forced Philipe Nathan Walton, 27, from his farm in remote Massalata on Tuesday and demanded ransom from his father.
Hundreds of U.S. soldiers are stationed at two bases in the country of roughly 24 millions.
The abduction comes two months after Islamic State fighters ambushed a giraffe sanctuary near Niamey, killing seven aid workers and their local guide.
Niger’s military has partnered with French and regional troops to fight rising extremism in the region, which has killed more than 5,000 West Africans this year alone, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, which tracks the conflict.
U.S. forces normally provide training and intelligence support in the region. Saturday’s operation was extremely rare, the official said.