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A Western official said the rescuers and the freed hostages flew by helicopter to Camp Lemonnier in the nearby Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not been released publicly.

The hostages were expected to leave Djibouti fairly soon, one U.S. official said, and will travel to another location for medical screenings and other evaluations before heading home.

A key U.S. ally in the region, Djibouti hosts the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, a U.S.-led group organized under U.S. Africa Command.

The mission was directed by Army Gen. Carter Ham, head of Africa Command, from his headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Panetta and other members of Obama’s national security team monitored the mission from the White House before traveling to the Capitol to attend Obama’s speech.

Minutes after Obama completed his State of the Union address he was on the phone with Buchanan’s father to tell him that his daughter was safe.

Several hostages were 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 writers Lolita Baldor and Julie Pace in Washington, Jason Straziuso and Katharine Houreld in Nairobi, Kenya and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.