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3 former hostages, such as two French nationals, arrived in Paris on Saturday evening following getting rescued from a militant group in Burkina Faso by French specific forces in a evening-time raid. Two of the soldiers have been killed in the operation.
The two French former hostages, Laurent Lassimouillas, 46, and Patrick Picque, 51, have been met by French President Emmanuel Macron, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly at Villacoublay military airport.
“France’s message to terrorists is clear: these who want to attack France, the French, ought to know that we will hunt them, we will locate them, and we will kill them,” mentioned Parly.
Earlier on Saturday, the former hostages met with Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré in the presidential palace in the capital Ouagadougou.
‘Co-operation of terror groups raises dangers in Sahel’
Speaking in the Burkina Faso capital, Lassimouillas paid tribute to the two French soldiers killed in the rescue operation: “Our thoughts go out to the soldiers’ households, and to the soldiers who lost their lives to absolutely free us from this hell we wanted to supply our condolences ideal away,” he mentioned.
A ceremony of national tribute will be held at the iconic Invalides military hospital and mausoleum in Paris on Tuesday for the two soldiers who have been killed in this “highly complicated operation”, as Parly described the raid on Friday.
Kidnapped vacationers have been in Benin ‘red zone’
Lassimouillas and Picque disappeared in the course of a tour of Pendjari National Park in Benin on May perhaps 1.
They have been seized by kidnappers in an region of Benin that France has extended advised travellers to keep away from, Le Drian mentioned on Saturday.
“The zone exactly where our two citizens have been has for some time now been regarded a red zone, which implies it really is a zone exactly where you should not go, exactly where you are taking important dangers if you do go,” Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.
French vacationers warned to keep away from Benin’s ‘red zone’
The foreign ministry’s travel advisory web site lists the locations of northern Benin close to the border with Burkina Faso as “Formally Discouraged,” such as Pendjari National Park.
It warns of “the presence of armed terrorist groups and the threat of kidnapping”.
The disfigured physique of their guide was discovered shortly following they have been reported missing, along with their abandoned Toyota truck.
Intelligence agencies tracked their captors across the semi-desert terrain of eastern Burkina Faso, exactly where it appeared they would quickly cross the border into Mali.
‘France’s duty is to rescue its citizens wherever they are’
Officials feared the hostages would be handed more than to the Macina Liberation Front (FLM), a jihadist group formed in 2015 that is aligned with al Qaeda in the area.
Macron gave the order for the nighttime raid Thursday on the militants’ camp, in which Picque and Lassimouillas have been freed, along with an American lady and a South Korean lady.
The French commandos have been unaware of the presence of the two other hostages, officials mentioned. The fourth freed hostage, an American national, is anticipated to be repatriated separately.
‘Avoid the sacrifices’
Despite the fact that Benin has extended been spared the unrest noticed in Mali and Burkina Faso, French officials have warned that jihadist insurgents could extend their operations into the sparsely populated desert regions additional south.
“The threat is evolving and has come to be significantly extra mobile, and now nations to the south of Mali have come to be targets,” Le Drian mentioned Saturday.
“The greatest precautions have to be taken in these regions to keep away from these varieties of kidnappings, and keep away from the sacrifices expected by our soldiers,” he mentioned.
France’s Operation Barkhane counts some four,500 troops deployed in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad to support nearby forces battle jihadist groups.
The raid on the kidnappers was led by the elite Hubert commando unit of the French naval specific forces, which was deployed to the Sahel at the finish of March.
They have been assisted by Burkina and Benin authorities and by the United States, which supplied intelligence and help.
A total of 24 French soldiers have died in the area given that 2013 when France intervened to drive back jihadist groups who had taken handle of northern Mali.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)