Special ops team member killed in Afghan rescue mission
WASHINGTON — A member of a U.S. special operations team was killed during a weekend rescue mission in Afghanistan that freed an American doctor abducted by the Taliban outside of Kabul five days ago.
President Obama praised the special forces on Sunday, saying the mission was characteristic of U.S. troops' “extraordinary courage, skill and patriotism.”
A spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan said Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs was rescued early Sunday in eastern Afghanistan. Joseph, a medical adviser for Colorado Springs-based Morning Star Development, was rescued after intelligence showed he was in imminent danger of injury or possible death, according to the military.
The special operator killed in the mission was not immediately identified.
“He gave his life for his fellow Americans, and he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong, safe and free,” Obama said.
In a separate statement on Sunday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “In this fallen hero, and all of our special operators, Americans see the highest ideals of citizenship, sacrifice and service upheld.”
Morning Star, a relief group that helps rebuild communities in Afghanistan, said in a statement that Joseph was uninjured and probably would return home in a few days. The group said two of his co-workers were freed by their captors about 11 hours before the rescue, after hours of negotiations were conducted over three days.
Morning Star said the three workers were abducted by a group of armed men while returning from a visit to one of the organization's rural medical clinics in eastern Kabul province.
The group said the three workers were taken into mountains about 50 miles from the Pakistan border. The relief group said it would not reveal the identity of the two other men because they live and work in the region.
The group said it did not pay ransom to obtain their release.
The kidnappers had demanded $100,000 for the captives' safe return, said Sayed Jan, health director of the Sorobi District. Afghan police managed to capture the insurgents' commander, Shah Gul, who told them the captives' location, according to Jan.
Morning Star praised those who helped get the workers back unharmed, singling out “courageous members of the U.S. military who successfully rescued Mr. Joseph as they risked their own lives doing so.”
The group also offered thanks to local Afghan elders and local leaders “who made visits and appeals to the captors advocating for the release of the hostages.”
Saturday night, military forces rescued Joseph in a mission ordered by Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Afghan officials said the operation took place in Laghman province.
“Today's mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban,” Allen said in a statement. “I'm proud of the American and Afghan forces that planned, rehearsed and successfully conducted this operation. Thanks to them, Dr. Joseph will soon be rejoining his family and loved ones.”
Joseph has worked with Morning Star for three years. He serves as its medical adviser, and travels frequently to Afghanistan, the agency said.
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