NATION

Va. woman freed from Somali pirates in U.S. military raid

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SOMALIA (AP) - U.S. military forces helicoptered into Somalia in a nighttime raid Wednesday and freed two hostages--an American and a Dane--while killing nine pirates, officials and a pirate source said.

Poul Hogen Thistead and Jessica Buchanan were freed during a U.S. military raid in Somalia. (Photo: Associated Press)

The Danish Refugee Council confirmed the two aid workers, American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Hagan Thisted, were freed "during an operation in Somalia."

A U.S. military official confirmed to ABC News that, around 2 a.m., Seals parachuted from a plane into the area near the compound where the aid workers were being held. There were shots fired as they approached the compound, but this official says there were no U.S. casualties.

The Seals and the workers then boarded a helicopter and left the area, ABC News reports. The team was on the ground for about an hour.

According to ABC News, Buchanan, 30,  is from Bedford, Va.

She and Thisted, 60, had been working with a de-mining unit of the Danish Refugee Council when they were kidnapped in October.

President Barack Obama appeared to refer to the mission before his State of the Union address in Washington Tuesday night.

As he entered the House chamber in the U.S. Capitol, he pointed at Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in the crowd and said, "Good job tonight."

The president personally authorized the rescue Tuesday because the Special Ops Forces said it was time--Buchanan's health was beginning to decline, an official said.

"She's a young woman in her 30s, so we wanted to act and they did," said an official.

A family friend said she is doing well now.

Same unit that got Bin Laden

A U.S. official says the Navy SEAL team that rescued Buchanan and Thisted in Somalia was the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden.

SEAL Team Six parachuted into Somalia under cover of darkness Wednesday and rescued them from an outdoor camp where they were being held by Somali pirates, the official said.

The same team executed the mission last May in which al-Qaida leader bin Laden was killed.

The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the top secret operation.

Hostages taken to Djibouti

A Western official told The Associated Press that the raid was carried out by U.S. military forces.

A second official said the helicopters and the hostages flew to a U.S. military base called Camp Lemonier in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not been released publicly.

Panetta visited Camp Lemonier just over a month ago. A key U.S. ally in this region, Djibouti has the only U.S. base in sub-Saharan Africa.

It hosts the military's Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

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