French commandos killed in Burkina Faso hostage rescue

Laurent Lassimouillas and Patrick Picque, the two French hostages who were rescued in the operation in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso's president has received three liberated hostages in the presidential palace in the capital, Ouagadougou, to wish them well as they fly to Paris.

"Macron is president of all French citizens, even those who do reckless acts", he said.

The two French people reportedly went missing on May 1 at a national park in the northern part of the western African country of Benin.

"We were not aware of their presence. the American will be repatriated separately", Florence Parly told a news conference.

Hostages freed by French commandos from militants in Burkina Faso offered their condolences on Saturday to the families of the two French soldiers killed in the rescue operation.

The two French soldiers who died were killed at close quarters as they entered one of the kidnappers' four shelters, the general said.

"It seems these two other hostages [the American and South Korean] had been held hostage for 28 days", said Francois Lecointre, the chief of staff of the French armed forces.

Macron will lead a national tribute to the men, both officers in the naval special forces, at the Les Invalides military hospital and mausoleum in Paris on Tuesday.

The French government identified the two soldiers killed as Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello.




A South Korean embassy official was present to greet the unnamed third hostage.

The hostages had been kidnapped in neighbouring Benin earlier this month.

Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State were the main terrorist organisations operating in the area, but French authorities have yet to determine if the kidnappers belonged to either group.

In a statement obtained by the BBC, Macron said he "bows with emotion and solemnity before the sacrifice of our two soldiers who gave their lives to save those of our citizens".

Although Benin is considered an island of stability in West Africa, a troubled region where many extremist groups operate, Pendjari lies on the porous and remote border with Burkina Faso, which has been hard-hit by militant violence.

A military ceremony for the commandos is planned for next week.

Macron also thanked the Beninese and Burkinabé authorities for their "perfect cooperation" and reaffirmed France's commitment to fighting terrorism in the Sahel region.

Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger formed the G5 Sahel group in 2014 to co-operate on development and security.

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