American hostage among four freed in western Africa following French special forces raid; two soldiers killed
An American citizen is among a group of four hostages who have been freed in western Africa following a French special forces military operation, the Elysee announced Friday.
The hostages were identified as a U.S. citizen, a South Korean national, and French nationals Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas.
The Frenchmen were kidnapped during a safari in Benin last week, according to Reuters. The circumstances surrounding the capture of the other two were not immediately clear.
Islamic extremists have become increasingly active in Burkina Faso, raising worries the militants could be infiltrating northern Benin and neighboring Togo as well.
The Sahel region near where the French citizens were kidnapped is as an ecological transition zone between the Sahara desert and Africa’s savannahs farther south. It has been roamed by militants in recent years who have targeted French nationals and other Europeans for kidnappings and demanded millions of dollars for their release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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