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Four hostages freed in Burkina Faso by French special forces

10.05.2019
French special forces have freed two French hostages, an American and a South Korean in northern Burkina Faso in an overnight military raid in which two soldiers died, authorities announced on Friday.

The operation was ordered to free the French tourists, identified as Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, who disappeared while on holiday in the remote Pendjari National Park in Benin on May 1.

The identity of the American and South Korean hostages was not immediately known, but they were both said to be women in the statement.

The location of the raid indicated that the French tourists had been kidnapped in Benin and taken over the nearby border into Burkina Faso, where Islamist terror groups have stepped up attacks in recent months.

President Emmanuel Macron “wants to congratulate the French armed forces for the liberation of the hostages, and includes everyone who worked alongside them,” a statement from the presidency said.

“He bows with emotion and solemnity before the sacrifice of our two soldiers who gave their lives to save those of our citizens,” the statement added.

In a separate statement, Defence Minister Florence Parly thanked authorities in Benin and Burkina Faso for their help with the “complex operation”, as well as the United States for its “precious support”.

Four kidnappers were killed in the raid, the French army said, adding that the American military had provided intelligence.

Former colonial ruler France has 4,500 troops deployed in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in a mission codenamed Barkhane to help local forces in their battle with jihadist groups.

American special forces and drones are also thought to operate in the violence-wracked Sahel region, which France fears could become further destabilised as jihadist groups are pushed out of north Africa, Iraq and Syria.

Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

Read the original article here.

Credit image/l’edito

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