French troops rescue four hostages in Burkina Faso raid

French special forces have freed four foreign hostages in northern Burkina Faso in a military raid that cost the lives of two soldiers. 
Those freed in the overnight raid on Friday included two French tourists, an American woman and a South Korean woman, the French presidency said in a statement. All four were safe, it added. 
President Emmanuel Macron congratulated the French armed forces for freeing the hostages and expressed condolences for the soldiers killed in the operation, saying he "bows with emotion and solemnity before the sacrifice of our two soldiers". 
In a separate statement, Defence Minister Florence Parly thanked authorities in Burkina Faso and neighbouring Benin for their help with the "complex operation", as well as the United States for its "precious support" in the operation.
Four kidnappers were killed in the raid, the French army said, adding that the US military had provided intelligence. 
The French statements did not indicate who was holding the hostages.
The operation was ordered to free the French hostages, identified as Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, who were kidnapped while on safari in Benin. 


The pair failed to return from holiday in the remote Pendjari National Park wildlife reserve in Benin on May 1.
Their guide's body was found on Sunday, riddled with bullets, and the car that he and the tourists used was found burned out across the border in Burkina Faso. 
The two men, a music teacher and a shopkeeper working in the Paris region, are expected to travel back to France this weekend.
"We'll travel up to Paris to welcome them off the plane," Jean-Claude Picque, the father of one of the hostages, told the AFP news agency.
"They told us that hostage-takings can be very long, but in the end, it worked out ok, but not for the soldiers," he said.
The identities of the American and South Korean women were not known. 
The French government had warned its citizens against travelling to parts of Benin near the Burkina Faso border where the park is located because of the risk of kidnapping.
The country's military conducted exercises last year amid concern about armed groups' activity in Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
France has thousands of regular troops and special forces as part of its Barkhane force stationed in the poverty-wracked and violence-hit Sahel region of northwest Africa.
Macron has repeatedly called on France's allies to help fund and train a new regional African military force called the G5 Sahel, which experts continue to see as under-equipped and still heavily dependent on French firepower.



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