He is 27 years old and lived with his family on the border with Nigeria. In the operation, they killed five jihadists.
A team Seal, special forces of the United States Navy, managed to rescue this morning in Nigeria an American who had been kidnapped in neighboring Niger, and kill five of the six members of the jihadist group that captured him.
Philip Walton, 27, is the son of missionaries who is dedicated to agricultural exploitation in Massalata, a small town in Niger, close to the border with Nigeria. Earlier this week he had been abducted by armed men from his home, where he lived with his wife, son and brother.
The attackers reportedly belonged to the Fulani ethnic group, predominantly Muslim. Although they are not directly linked to terrorist groups in the region, they tend to have links to them.
It is believed that Walton was taken to Nigeria in order to sell it to larger jihadists operating in the Sahel region, as residual groups of Al Qaeda and ISIS.
In recent years there have been several violent episodes in that area. One of them occurred in 2017, when a patrol of American soldiers was ambushed and four of them were killed.
In the early hours of this Saturday, and after intelligence tasks, a SEAL team located the kidnappers and in a commando operation managed to eliminate five of them and free Walton.
“US forces conducted a rescue operation in the early hours of October 31 in northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen who had been kidnapped by a group of armed men. He is safe and in the care of the State Department, “said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
Walton’s case is not the only one. It is believed that there are at least six foreigners held by ultra-Islamic terrorist groups in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, for which negotiations are under way.
Earlier this month they released three Europeans, two Italians and one Frenchman, after a controversial exchange for 100 terrorist prisoners that Mali had.
For seven years the United States has been deploying special teams of its armed forces in Central and North African countries in order to stop the ultra-Islamic fundamentalists.
It began in 2013 with President Barack Obama, who authorized the deployment of American forces to Niger to fly drones MQ-9 Reaper of vigilance.
But since last year, the US forces have been expanding in the countries of the region and already have several military bases.