President Macron meets with hostages from West African militant camp, pays tribute to heroes killed in rescue mission
Macron expressed condolences for the two French Special Forces officers who died saving four hostages from the Burkina Faso militant camp during a rescue operation.
Two of the hostages present in France Saturday were identified as Frenchmen Laurent Lassimouillas and Patrick Picque, while the third was an unidentified South Korean woman. The fourth hostage, an American woman, was not identified, and was flown back to the United States without speaking to Macron, according to The Daily Mail.
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.
“All our thoughts go to the families of the soldiers and to the soldiers who lost their lives to free us from this hell,” Lassimouillas said. “We wanted to present our condolences right away to those families because we feel ambivalent about everything that happened to us.”
The soldiers were identified as petty officers Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello. A Facebook post by the French Navy added that both men received numerous awards throughout their military careers.
Lassimouillas and Picque, both music teachers, had disappeared in Pendjari National Park in Benin on May 1. The Frenchmen spoke about the death of the Beninese park guide, who was killed when they were taken from the safari and transported to the military camp. They expressed regret over what happened and French officials say their captors were ‘terrorists’ who planned to transport them to an Al Qaeda affiliate in Mali.
The U.S. State Department warns Americans to “reconsider travel” to Burkina Faso as “terrorist groups continue plotting attacks and kidnappings … and may conduct attacks anywhere.”
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