(NEW YORK) — An American doctor who worked for an NGO in Kabul and had been kidnapped by the Taliban was rescued Saturday in a raid by U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials.
Dr. Dilip Joseph, who was abducted Dec. 5 by Taliban insurgents in the vicinity of Sarobi District, Kabul Province, was freed Saturday during an operation in eastern Afghanistan.
“Today’s mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban,” said Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of USFOR-A. “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.”
Allen said he ordered the mission when intelligence showed that Joseph was in imminent danger of injury or death.
According to a Defense Department official, no U.S. forces were killed in the raid, but several Taliban died in the rescue, which was a nighttime helicopter raid by U.S. Special Operations forces in a very remote area by the Pakistan border.
The rescue mission was planned and executed quickly, according to the official, because of serious concerns about Joseph’s safety.
“We were concerned for his life,” the official said. “He was not being held in the best of conditions, he was not being treated well and there was concern for his safety. And the longer it went on if he was not killed, it would become harder and harder. There were indications he might be being moved to Pakistan.”
U.S. officials were made aware of Joseph’s abduction the day it happened, but was not announced, again because of safety concerns, according to the official.
“It’s fair to say the primary focus is on safety of U.S. citizens,” the official said. “The goal is to get them back as quickly as possible. The judgment in this case was made that it was not in his best interest to make it widely known.”
Joseph has undergone medical evaluation. He can walk under his own power, but he was beaten up by his captors, the official said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Joe Sterling and Cassandra Santiago, CNN
Laura Goehler, CNN
Laura Smith-Spark, Erin McLaughlin and Nina dos Santos, CNN