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US forces free American, Danish hostages

25 January 2012, 11:43

Mogadishu - US military forces flew in helicopters under the cover of darkness on a raid into Somalia early Wednesday and freed an American and a Dane held hostage, Western officials said.

Pirates reported a gun battle with several casualties.

The Danish Refugee Council confirmed that hostages Jessica Buchanan - an American - and Poul Hagan Thisted - a Dane - were freed "during an operation in Somalia".

An official told AP that the raid was carried out by US military forces.

A second official said the helicopters and the hostages landed at a US base in the tiny East African nation of Djibouti after the raid. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not been released publicly.

Major Kelly Cahalan, a military spokesperson at U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said she had no information on the reported raid. A spokesperson at the Pentagon had no immediate comment.

The two hostages had been held in Somalia since October. The Danish Refugee Council said both are unharmed "and at a safe location".

A pirate who gave his name as Bilal Hussein said he had spoken to pirates at the scene of the raid and they reported that nine pirates had been killed.

A second pirate who gave his name as Ahmed Hashi said two helicopters attacked at about 02:00 at the site where the hostages were being held about 20km north of the Somali town of Adow.



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