Benin ex-hostages arrive in Paris with presidential greeting

14 May, 2019, 03:31 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • The operation was ordered to free Patrick Picque right and Laurent Lassimouillas left

A South Korean and the two French nationals were also rescued, according to the statement.

Both hostages, Frenchmen music teachers Laurent Lassimouillas and Patrick Picque, disappeared 11 days ago while on safari in the remote Pendjari National Park in northern Benin.

A South Korean woman, who was rescued by the French military after almost a month of captivity in the western African country of Burkina Faso, remains in good health, Seoul's foreign ministry said Sunday. The military operation was initially launched to rescue two French tourists snatched earlier this month, before they could be handed over to militants in Mali.

French President Emmanuel Macron issued a statement Friday offering his condolences to the two commandos' loved ones.

The minister said investigations were underway to identify the kidnappers, noting that networks affiliated with al Qaeda and ISIS are known to operate in the area.

Macron spoke to the hostages as they got off the plane at the Villacoublay Air Base southwest of Paris, making note of the sacrifice made by the Special Forces officers.

Despite careful planning and American and Burkina support, "no one had any knowledge" of the presence of an American and a South Korean, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said at a news conference. Their guide was later found dead.

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Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. A military ceremony is planned for them next week.

"The President of Burkina Faso expressed his sympathy for the two deaths recorded on the French side, in this friendly operation".

Two French service members lost their lives during the nighttime raid to release the four from their 28-day ordeal.

"The threat is evolving and has become much more mobile, and now countries to the south of Mali have become targets", Le Drian said on Saturday.

Burkinabe security and intelligence forces assisted in the operation.

The raid on the kidnappers was led by the elite Hubert commando unit of the French naval special forces, which was deployed to the Sahel at the end of March.

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

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