French troops free hostages in Burkina Faso
Four foreign hostages are freed by French forces in the West African state of Burkina Faso, France says.
Commanders launched the operation to rescue two French tourists snatched in neighbouring Benin earlier this month, until they are handed over to militants in Mali.
During the raid special forces discovered the kidnappers were holding a US woman and a South Korean woman.
Two French soldiers and four kidnappers were killed. Two kidnappers escaped.
What do we know about the raid?
It happened in the north of Burkina Faso since the kidnappers stopped in their journey towards Mali, the head of the French army said.
Commanders decided to act because the kidnappers were near the Malian border and were thought to be intending to hand the hostages over to the Mali-based militant group Katiba Macina.
“After the hostages were in their hands it would have been impossible to rescue them,” General François Lecointre told reporters.
He explained that a first operation, conducted on Tuesday with US support, had enabled the French to monitor the kidnappers.
During the raid itself, special forces covered 200m of open floor and got to within 10m of the shelter where the hostages were being held before being seen by a guard.
Both French soldiers who died were killed at close quarters as they entered one of the kidnappers’ four shelters, the general said. The commandos didn’t open fire until the end of the operation, when a few of the kidnappers tried to escape.
Troops didn’t expect to discover the US and South Korean hostages since there was no information that the kidnappers were holding anybody else, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly stated.
Ms Parly said the kidnappers’ identity wasn’t yet known but there were two main militant groups operating near where the French tourists were shot, one connected to al-Qaeda and another to the Islamic State group.
The 2 soldiers killed during the rescue were called as Cédric p Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello.
Ms Parly thanked the militaries of both Benin and Burkina Faso for their help in the operation.
Who are the hostages?
Frenchmen Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, both music teachers, vanished in the distant Pendjari National Park in Benin where they’d been on safari. Their neighborhood manual was found dead.
The park is on the boundary with Burkina Faso where Islamist militants are increasingly active in recent months.
The other two free hostages had seemingly been at the kidnappers’ hands for 28 days, Gen Lecointre stated.
South Korean media quoted a government official as saying the police had had no report of a lost citizen and they had been attempting to establish the rescued woman’s citizenship.
Meanwhile the US has expressed its gratitude to France for the American girl’s launch, AFP quoted an official as saying.
President Emmanuel Macron is to get the two French hostages and the South Korean at Villacoublay out Paris on Saturday, French news outlet BFMTV reports.
What response has there been?
A statement from the French said Mr Macron”bows with emotion and solemnity before the sacrifice of both soldiers that gave their lives to rescue those of our citizens”.
Ms Parly said”terrorists that attack France and French citizens should know that we’ll spare no effort to track them down and fight them”.
France has 4,500 troops located in the Sahel region on the southern border of the Sahara Desert as part of its Operation Barkhane – an ongoing coalition effort in Africa’s Sahel region to fight jihadist insurgents.
Source of News: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-48228353