French military frees hostages in Burkina Faso, two commandos killed

French military frees hostages in Burkina Faso, two commandos killed

The operation was ordered to free the French hostages, identified as Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, who were kidnapped while on safari in Benin.

"We were not aware of their presence. the American will be repatriated separately", Florence Parly told a news conference. But as it announced that success, the navy also said it's mourning two special forces soldiers who died in the overnight rescue operation.

The pair, along with the South Korean, have now returned to France, arriving this week at Villacoublay airport outside Paris to be greeted by President Emmanuel Macron.

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. The two will be honored in a national tribute Tuesday, Macron said.

USA forces were not involved in the raid, French defense officials said at a news conference in Paris, but did provide some intelligence support, which helped French forces locate the hostages and their kidnappers.

Several U.S. officials told ABC News that the U.S. government was unaware until Friday that the American woman was being held.

It warns of "the presence of armed terrorist groups and the risk of kidnapping".

The disfigured body of their guide was found shortly after they were reported missing, along with their abandoned Toyota truck.

The US military supported the French-led operation between Thursday and Friday in the northern Sahel region, according to two US officials.

Laurent Lassimouillas is one of the four ex-hostages freed.

Intelligence agencies tracked their captors across the semi-desert terrain of eastern Burkina Faso, where it appeared they would soon cross the border into Mali.

He added that the American and Korean had been held for 28 days. "The greatest precaution must be taken in these regions to prevent such abductions from taking place and to avoid the sacrifice of our soldiers".

Parly also thanked local authorities and the "precious support of our American allies in conducting this operation".

The country's military conducted exercises previous year amid concern about armed groups' activity in Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.

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