Burkina Faso: 2 French soldiers killed, 4 hostages including American woman freed in dramatic raid

Burkina Faso: 2 French soldiers killed, 4 hostages including American woman freed in dramatic raid

Four hostages, including an American woman, were freed by French forces in a covert operation in the West African country of Burkina Faso. Two French soldiers were killed during the operation.

The hostages included two Frenchmen, an American and a South Korean. It was not clear who had abducted them or was holding them, but a number of Muslim terror groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, operate in the region.

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France’s defense ministry identified the fallen soldiers as two elite naval commandos Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello. A Facebook post by the French Navy added that both men received numerous awards and recognitions throughout their military careers, such as the Gold Level of the National Defense Medal.

Four Muslim terrorists were eliminated and two escaped during the raid.

“The precise and determined actions of French soldiers allowed us to take out the kidnappers while protecting the lives of the hostages,” France’s army chief Francois Lecointre told a news conference.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said the United States was grateful for the successful recovery of the hostages, including a U.S. citizen, and offered condolences to the families of the two soldiers killed.

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“The successful operation demonstrates the importance of our historic alliance with France. We reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Burkina Faso and Benin in the face of these threats,” she said.

Burkina Faso’s President Roch Kabore hailed the hostages’ release and offered condolences to the soldiers’ families.

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“The joint military intervention that allowed us to achieve these results shows our common engagement in fighting against the forces of evil,” Kabore said in a Facebook post.

France, the former colonial power in the region, intervened in Mali in 2013 against Muslim terrorists then occupying Mali’s north and has since kept about 4,500 troops in the Sahel.

The region has seen a spike in violence by terrorists linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS in past years, highlighting the difficulty international partners face in restoring stability.