The soldiers moved into the darkness shooting dead the kidnappers with silenced weapons. Several were dispatched with a “double tap” the preferred method of killing - two bullets in the centre of the forehead.
The US special forces cleared and secured their target, killing seven kidnappers in the process but no hostages had been found.
For an instant commanders faced the dreadful possibility that the four aid workers had been moved. Seconds later, however, the tension was broken when the SAS team commander’s radio crackled into life, reporting that all four hostage were alive and well, before adding that a further four kidnappers had been killed.