US military forces rescued an American citizen in Nigeria, the Pentagon said on Saturday, days after he was kidnapped by gunmen in the south of neighbouring Niger and apparently taken across the border.
The hostage, Philip Walton, was abducted Monday night on the outskirts of Massalata, a village about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the border with Nigeria.
Walton is safe and in the care of the US State Department, the Pentagon said in a statement. US forces did not suffer any casualties in the rescue operation, it added.
“The United States is committed to the safe return of all US citizens taken captive,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a separate statement.
“We delivered on that commitment late last night in Nigeria, where some of our bravest and most skilled warriors rescued a US citizen,” he said.
President Donald Trump hailed the rescue operation.
“Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today. Details to follow!,” he tweeted.
Niger’s Defence Minister Issoufou Katambe had earlier confirmed the hostage release to AFP without giving details about how he had been freed.
Local officials had said this week that the kidnappers had called the man’s father to demand a ransom, though the family did not confirm this.
Walton had been living in Massalata with his wife and child for two years, according to his father, who himself has been in Niger for nearly 30 years.
Niger lies in the heart of the vast Sahel region, which is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.
US forces have two drone bases in Agadez and Dirkou, in northern Niger. Their aircraft provide significant support to the French anti-jihadist Barkhane force.
In October 2017, four American Special Forces soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers were killed in an ambush in Tongo Tongo, near Mali, in southwestern Niger.
The attack was claimed by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
Several Westerners are currently being held hostage in the region, including American aid worker Jeffery Woodke, who was kidnapped in the central town of Abalak in 2016 and is believed to be in neighbouring Mali now.
Three Europeans, including 75-year-old French charity worker Sophie Petronin, were released by their captors in Mali earlier this month under a prisoner swap arranged by the Malian government.
In August, six French aid workers and two Niger citizens were killed in the Koure wildlife reserve west of Niamey, in an attack claimed by the so-called Islamic State group.ci
BREAKING: Tension in Imo as gunmen engage police in shootout
There is palpable fear in Imo State on Tuesday as gunmen engaged police in a gun duel as they attempted to burn Orji Divisional Police Headquarters situated on Owerri-Okigwe Road in Owerri under reconstruction.
Security operatives made up of soldiers, policemen and Air Force engaged the hoodlums in shootout which resulted to casualties on the side of the hoodlums
The situation caused panic in the area that forced two banks in the area to hurriedly close.
Customers and passersby took to their heels as vehicles diverted while motorists scampered for safety after running out of their vehicles. The situation caused serious gridlock around the city
Eyewitnesses told our correspondent that the gunmen, numbering over 20 attacked the police station after blocking the expressway with their vehicles.
Reacting, the police spokesman, SP Bala Elkanah said the police were able to repel the hoodlums before they could destroy the police station.
Some hoodlums in their number launched an offensive on the reconstruction site of Orji Divisional Headquarters which was earlier burnt by hoodlums during the #EndSARS protest in 2020. A philanthropist contracted the reconstruction project.
The hoodlums, who believed that the re-establishment of a functional police station may prevent them from carrying out their nefarious acts in Orji and environs, decided to invade the construction site.
Before the arrival of reinforcement team, the hoodlums melted into the neighbouring townships area but abandoned their operational vehicles. The Commissioner of Police, Imo State, CP Abutu Yaro, fdc personally led an enforcement team to the scene.
The whole area was cordoned and five suspects, namely Chigaemezu Sabastine ‘m’ 26 years old, Casmir Ibe ‘m’ 36years old, John Chinonso ‘m’ 24years old, Chukwudi Okoro ‘m’ 28years and Alozie Daberechi ‘m’ 25years old were arrested. No life was lost. Three vehicles were recovered.
He said, mop up operation is ongoing to arrest more suspects and recover their firearms.
It was not ascertained whether there was any casualty on the said of the security agents, but the police Spokesperson in the state, Bala Elkana, said that ” we are repelling them. The war is ongoing. There is heavy security operatives detachment deployed to the scene. We have taken the way to them. We are wining. There is high number of casualties on the side of the hoodlums.”
It would be recalled that the same police Divisional headquarters was in 2020 burnt during the nationwide #ENDSARS protest.
Primate Ayodele exposes three PDP govs allegedly planning to decamp to APC
The leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Primate Elijah Ayodele has revealed three state governors on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, planning to decamp to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Primate Ayodele revealed that the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Muhammed Matawalle, Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, and their Abia State counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu are planning to defect from PDP to APC.
In a statement on Tuesday, the clergyman noted that Matawalle has made up his mind already, while Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu are still contemplating defecting from PDP to APC.
He warned that if the PDP’s reconciliation committee fails to work things out, they will eventually decamp to the APC.
‘’The Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Muhammed Matawalle has made up his mind to leave the PDP. He is 99 percent out, If the party does not manage its situation well, the Governor of Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, and the Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu will follow suit.
“They are currently contemplating and planning a strategy to leave the party, they are 40% out.’’
This is coming after the popular prophet made a prophecy days back that he foresees that PDP will lose more governors soon after the Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade decamped last week.
Primate Ayodele made it known that six top members that include governors, senators and honourable will leave the party if the party leaders do not work things out.
BREAKING: Suspected Suicide Bomber Blows Self Up In Ebonyi
A yet-to-be identified middle-aged man suspected to be a suicide bomber blew up himself in Afikpo local government area of Ebonyi State.
The incident happened at about 11.30am on Tuesday opposite the campus 2 of Amaizu/Amangbala primary school in Afikpo LGA of the state.
A resident of the area, who spoke to LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity, said that on hearing the sound of the explosion, residents of the area scampered for safety.
He said that the yet-to-be identified man was carrying explosive, which exploded on his body killing him instantly.
He noted that after few minutes, the residents reconvened at the scene of the incident only to discover the suspected suicide bomber laying dead in the pool of his own blood.
The resident, who pointed out that the incident happened close to the Eke Market in Afikpo, which happens to be the biggest market in the area, said that there was tension and panic in the community following the incident.
According to the source, the suspected bomber was earlier seen wandering within the area, adding that “He first came into a beer parlour and when the people inquired who he was, he left.”
He was said to have moved to the school side and when the gateman asked him to go back, he made effort to remove his clothes when the explosive went off.
Efforts to get the reactions of the Ebonyi State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Loverth Odah and the State Commissioner for Internal Security, Boarder Peace and Conflict Resolutions, Chief Stanley Emegha, proved abortive as several calls put across to them were not answered.