According to the Elysee, Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, kidnapped in Benin on May 1st, 2019, were rescued during a military operation in Burkina Faso.
The Elysee announced, Friday, May 10, 2019 , the release of the two French kidnapped in Benin and held hostage . “This release was achieved through a military operation, conducted by French forces on the night of Thursday to Friday, in northern Burkina Faso,” said the government in a statement to the media, including Franceinfo .
Two soldiers are dead
It is also stated that two soldiers, “Master Cédric de Pierrepont and Master Alain Bertoncello, both petty officers in the Special Operations Command”, died during the operation
Morts pour la France cette nuit au Burkina Faso, les commandos marine Cédric de Pierrepont et Alain Bertoncello ont sacrifié leur vie pour sauver celle de 4 otages, désormais libres. Je pense à leurs familles, à leurs frères d’armes. Toute la Nation s’incline devant leur courage. pic.twitter.com/AiLn6iVCxw
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) May 10, 2019
Two other hostages, one American and one South Korean, were also released, adds Defense Minister Florence Parly.
President Emmanuel Macron “bows with emotion and gravity at the sacrifice of our two soldiers, who gave their lives to save those of our fellow citizens” and “extend sincere condolences to their families”.
“It is with emotion and sadness that I address my thoughts to the families of the two deceased soldiers, their relatives, their brothers in arms and all the navy commandos”, responded the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly in a separate press release.
The killed guide
The latter also “hailed the valuable support of our American allies in the conduct of this operation” and thanked “the authorities of Benin and Burkina Faso for their cooperation.”
The two hostages, Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas , disappeared on May 1st during a safari in Pendjari Park, one of the last sanctuaries of wildlife in West Africa, which covers nearly 5000 km along the border with Burkina Faso. The corpse of their Beninese guide, Fiacre Gbédji, and their empty vehicle had been found a few days later.
Benin was previously considered an island of stability in West Africa, a region where many jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) organization operate.