U.S. military raid in Somalia frees American, Dane

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The Danish Refugee Council said both freed hostages are unharmed “and at a safe location.” The group said in a separate statement that the two “are on their way to be reunited with their families.”

Olsen informed Thisted’s family of of the successful military operation and said “they were very happy and incredibly relieved that it is over.” Olsen said the two freed hostages were in Djibouti and would soon be moved to a “safe haven.” She said Buchanan does not need to be hospitalized.

The two aid workers appear to have been kidnapped by criminals — sometimes referred to as pirates — and not by Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab. As large ships at sea have increased their defenses against pirate attacks, gangs have looked for other money making opportunities like land-based kidnappings.

The Danish Refugee Council had earlier enlisted traditional Somali elders and members of civil society to seek the release of the two hostages.

“We are really happy with the successful release of the innocents kidnapped by evildoers,” said Mohamud Sahal, an elder in Galkayo town, by phone. “They were guests who were treated brutally. That was against Islam and our culture … These men (pirates) have spoiled our good customs and culture, so Somalis should fight back.”

Buchanan and Thisted were seized in October from the portion of Galkayo town under the control of a government-allied clan militia. The aid agency has said that Somalis held demonstrations demanding the pair’s quick release.

Their Somali colleague was detained by police on suspicion of being involved in their kidnapping.

The two hostages were working in northern Somalia for the Danish Demining Group, whose experts have been clearing mines and unexploded ordnance in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East.

Several hostages are still being held in Somalia, including a British tourist, two Spanish doctors seized from neighboring Kenya, and an American journalist kidnapped on Saturday.

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Associated Press reporters Julie Pace in Washington, Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark contributed to this report. Houreld reported from Nairobi and Dozier from Washington.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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