The Navy's elite SEAL Team 6 rescued an American hostage Saturday in an operation that apparently killed most of his captors, ABC News reports. According to US officials, the commandos managed to free 27-year-old Philip Walton in Nigeria while killing six of his seven captors. "They were all dead before they knew what happened," said an unidentified counterterrorism source. The governments of Niger, Nigeria, and the US are said to have joined forces in rescuing Walton, a missionary who was kidnapped Monday from his home on a farm in Niger. Sources said the armed assailants demanded money, but he offered only $40, and was abducted by force. It seems the kidnappers were bandits rather than terrorists, but captives are often sold to terror groups.
A counterterrorism official said concern grew that the situation would escalate if Walton fell into the hands of Islamists associated with ISIS or al-Qaeda, so the SEAL Team swung into action. Walton is now said to be safe, and none of the US commandos were injured. "Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals, and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, per CNN. "We will never abandon any American taken hostage." In fact, Jeffery Rey Woodke—a Christian aid worker from the US—has been held for four years since armed militants kidnapped him in northern Niger. (Read more rescue stories.)