Four hostages kidnapped by jihadist militias were rescued this Friday in Burkina Faso thanks to a complex operation of the French Army in which two French soldiers were killed. Two of the hostages, French tourists, had been abducted during a safari in northern Benin last week. Your local guide was killed. Two women, one American and one South Korean, have also been released. Four terrorists have died in the rescue operation, according to the Elysee.
The operation was precipitated last Thursday after it was announced that the hostages were about to be transferred to Mali to be handed over to members of the katiba Macina, one of the jihadist groups operating in this region. It was the "last chance" to recover them in the territory of Burkina Faso, acknowledged the French Chief of Staff, François Lecointre, because if they had crossed the border "it would have been impossible to organize any kind of liberation operation". With this information, and without any time to lose, President Emmanuel Macron gave the green light to the complex and risky mission on Thursday.
During the rescue of the French, the military found themselves by surprise with the fact that the kidnappers also held two women who had been in their hands for almost a month, and of whom the French Army had no news. Both could also be put to safety.
Excited almost to tears, Lecointre and the Minister of the Armies, Florence Parly, shelled Friday the details of an operation defined as "a real feat" due to the "immense courage and heroism" of the two officers of the special operations command , Cédric de Pierredepont and Alain Bertoncello, who perished in the assault, according to the minister. Macron will preside next week, in the palace of the Invalides, a ceremony of homage to the dead soldiers and will receive this Saturday the two French hostages, Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, and the South Korean at the military airport of Villacoublay. The liberated American is going to be repatriated to her country.
Thanks to the information gathered since the kidnapping, on May 1, of Gallic tourists, mainly from the US intelligence services, the French authorities were able to track down the kidnappers, who seemed to want to go to Mali. On Thursday they chose a place to rest that was propitious to carry out the assault. In the middle of the night, a command of the Task Force Saber, the special operations branch of the French Army deployed in the Sahel, managed to penetrate into the most absolute silence in the jihadist camp, "despite the presence of a sentinel guarding and that he did not detect them during their approach, "the chief of staff reported with emotion. The two soldiers who died in the attack "did not hesitate for a second before the terrorists and protected the hostages in exchange for their own lives," Parly revealed. Two kidnappers managed to escape.
It is not clear to which cell the terrorists belong, although the minister recalled that two jihadist movements operate in the area, one affiliated with Al-Qaida and the other with the Islamic State. France has deployed in the Sahel 4,500 military members of the Barkhane operation, which aims to fight terrorism.