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.
The operation was ordered to free the French hostages, identified as Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, who disappeared while on holiday in the remote Pendjari National Park in Benin on 1 May.
The identity of the American and South Korean hostages was not immediately known, but they were both said to be women.
The location of the raid seemed to indicate that the French tourists had been kidnapped in Benin and taken over the border into Burkina Faso, where Islamist terror and other militant 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, the French defence minister, Florence Parly, thanked authorities in Benin and Burkina Faso, as well as the US for its “precious support” in the operation.
France has thousands of regular troops and special forces as part of its Operation Barkhane force stationed in the Sahel region of north-west Africa.
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