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Bridging The Gap
French troops free hostages in Burkina Faso
  Friday 10 May, 2019
French troops free hostages in Burkina Faso

Four foreign hostages have been freed by French forces in the West African country of Burkina Faso, France says.

Commanders launched the operation to rescue two French tourists snatched in neighbouring Benin earlier this month, before they could be handed over to militants in Mali.

During the raid special forces found the kidnappers were also 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 took place in the north of Burkina Faso as the kidnappers stopped on their journey towards Mali, the head of the French military said.

Commanders decided to act because the kidnappers were close to the Malian border and were believed to be planning to hand the hostages over to the Mali-based militant group Katiba Macina.

"Once the hostages were in their hands it would have been impossible to rescue them," General François Lecointre told reporters.

He said that a first operation, conducted on Tuesday with US support, had allowed the French to track the kidnappers.

During the raid itself, special forces covered 200m of open ground and got to within 10m of the shelter where the hostages were being held before being spotted by a guard.

The two French soldiers who died were killed at close quarters as they entered one of the kidnappers' four shelters, the general said. The commandos did not open fire until the end of the operation, when some of the kidnappers tried to escape.

Troops did not expect to find the US and South Korean hostages because there had been no information that the kidnappers were holding anyone else, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said.

Ms Parly said the kidnappers' identity was not yet known but there were two main militant groups operating near where the French tourists were taken, one linked to al-Qaeda and the other to the Islamic State group.

The two soldiers killed during the rescue were named as Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello.

Ms Parly thanked the militaries of Benin and Burkina Faso for their help in the operation.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-48228353

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