UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that the SEALs who rescued the hostages were from the elite Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or SEAL Team VI, which was the same unit whose operators killed Osama bin Laden. The wire service also confirmed the commandos parachuted into the objective and flew out by special operations helicopter to Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.
U.S. commandos killed nine Somali pirates Tuesday when they raided a camp where two aid workers were being held prisoner, a Pentagon spokesman said.
"I can confirm nine killed," Pentagon spokesman George Little said in an email to U.S. News & World Report. Little declined to answer questions about how the U.S. special operations forces carried out the mission, which was green-lighted by President Barack Obama before he entered the House chamber to deliver his annual State of the Union address. NBC News reported that SEALs conducted the raid and swooped in via spec ops helicopters.
The Pentagon said in a statement issued early Wednesday morning announcing that U.S. forces had successfully rescued two aid workers employed by the Danish Demining Group: American Jessica Buchanan and her Danish colleague Poul Thisted. They were captured by Somali pirates on Oct. 25, 2011.
The duo have been "transported to a safe location where we will evaluate their health and make arrangements for them to return home," the Pentagon said in the statement.
The brazen operation is the latest example of how the Pentagon is stepping up efforts to combat pirates in that region.
Little declined to "get into the specifics of consultations" when asked whether Somali leaders were notified before or during the operation on their soil. But he did say "the Danes were advised beforehand."
Obama appeared to congratulate Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Tuesday evening as he entered the chamber. The commander in chief lingered near Panetta and the duo appeared to share a celebratory moment as the world looked on.
"The prime objective had been achieved when the president congratulated the secretary," Little said, "but the operation was absolutely not over."