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 Barack 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 Dr. Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was rescued early Sunday, local time, 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 U.S. military.
The U.S. did not immediately identify the special forces soldier killed in the mission.
"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 statement.
In a separate statement 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 would probably return home in a few days. The group also 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 (80 kilometers) from the Pakistan border,
The relief group said it would not reveal the identity of the other two men because they live and work in the region. The group said it did not pay ransom to obtain their release.
Morning Star praised those who helped get their 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 "who made visits and appeals to the captors advocating for the release of the hostages."
Joseph was captured by Taliban insurgents on Wednesday in the Sarobi district of Kabul province.
The rescue operation was ordered after intelligence showed that the doctor was in imminent danger of injury or possible death, according to a statement by the U.S.-led military coalition.
"This was a combined operation of U.S. and Afghan forces," said 1st Lt. Joseph Alonso, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "Information was collected through multiple intelligence sources, which allowed Afghan and coalition forces to identify the location of Joseph and the criminals responsible for his captivity."
Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the joint force planned, rehearsed and successfully conducted the operation.
"Thanks to them, Dr. Joseph will soon be rejoining his family and loved ones," Allen said.