French commandos killed in daring Burkina Faso hostage rescue

Erika Holt
May 11, 2019

Two French Navy Special Operations Forces troops have been killed during a daring rescue operation that freed four tourists kidnapped in West Africa.

The four hostages - two Frenchmen, a U.S. woman and a South Korean - are now safe, added the Élysée Palace.

The French tourists, identified as Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, disappeared in the remote Pendjari National Park in Benin on May 1 and their local guide was later found dead.

"We were notified this afternoon by the French government that a South Korean hostage was rescued", the official said.

"The precise and determined actions of French soldiers allowed us to take out the kidnappers while protecting the lives of the hostages", France's army chief said in a separate statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron plans to welcome home the French citizens and the South Korean citizen at a military airport outside Paris on Saturday evening, his office said. "If the hostages had been transferred to Mali, an operation like this would have been too risky", Parly said.

Two French commandos died in the assault, during which four terrorists were killed.

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They were part of the "Task Force Sabre" unit which is based in Burkina Faso.

France said the hostages were rescued Thursday night following a battle in Burkina Faso. Macron also thanked the Beninese and Burkinabé authorities for their "perfect cooperation" and reaffirmed France's commitment to fighting terrorism in the Sahel region.

French authorities had been looking for the two tourists after their guide's body was found earlier this month, according to France 24.

"The contacts we have had in recent hours with the United States and South Korea indicate that these countries were probably not aware of the presence of their nationals on Burkinabe territory", Parly explained.

"We are grateful for the safe recovery of hostages, including an American, during a recovery operation in Burkina Faso", said Tibor Nagy, the assistant secretary of state for Africa.

"I offer my deepest condolences to the families of the French soldiers killed during the operation", Nagy added.

The quartet was captured in Benin and then taken over the border to the north of Burkina Faso, where the operation took place.

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