The two former French hostages, Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, released in Burkina Faso arrive at the presidential palace in Ouagadougou on May 11, 2019. (© Twitter account of Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore

The Two Hostages Released in Northern Burkina Faso Expected in France

General News

The ex-two French hostages kidnapped in Benin were received by the Burkinabè president Saturday 11th May, 2019 before being welcomed by Emmanuel Macron in France.

The two French hostages released by the French special forces in northern Burkina Faso, at the price of the death of two soldiers, were received Saturday, May 11, 2019 by Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kaborè before flying to Paris where they must be greeted by President Emmanuel Macron .

The first words in public of the ex-hostage Laurent Lassimouillas, visibly tested, were for the French soldiers killed during the liberation operation: ”

“All our thoughts are with the families of the soldiers and the soldiers who lost their lives to free us from this hell. We wanted to offer our condolences right away.”

Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas were kidnapped on May 1st during a tourist trip to Benin , a country previously spared by insecurity in West Africa but in a zone not recommended by the French Foreign Ministry.

Former French hostage Laurent Lassimouillas addresses journalists in front of the presidential palace in Ouagadougou on May 11, 2019.
Former French hostage Laurent Lassimouillas addresses journalists in front of the presidential palace in Ouagadougou on May 11, 2019. (© BURKINA FASO PRESIDENT OFFICE / AFP / Ahmed OUOBA)

Cooperation between France and Burkina

They were released in the night from Thursday to Friday at the same time as a South Korean and an American woman who had been captive for 28 days.

“We wanted to thank the French authorities and those of Burkina for having participated in our release so that we are far from all this hell,” continued Laurent Lassimouillas.

He also said he had “a thought” for their “Beninese driver-guide who lost his life at the very beginning of our (their) abduction. It was very difficult too. The body of the guide was discovered on May 4th in Pendjari National Park where they were on a safari.

The two French and the former South Korean hostage arrived Saturday morning at the Presidential Palace in Ouagadougou , without the ex-American hostage.

With their faces closed, wearing black tracksuits and dark T-shirts, they made no other statements. They then left for Ouagadougou airport and are expected at 18h on the base of Villacoublay, near Paris. They will be greeted by President Macron.

Burkinabe Foreign Minister Alpha Barry, who said that the former American hostage was “with the Americans”, emphasized “cooperation between Burkina Faso and France particularly on security issues in the Sahel “.

“The release of the hostages is proof that this cooperation is working quite well. The French forces that are allied forces in our country can conduct operations in collaboration and cooperation with the Burkinabe forces, “he said. He added that a “fifteen Burkinabe military” had participated in this operation.

National tribute to the killed soldiers

A national tribute will be made Tuesday in Paris to the two French soldiers killed during this intervention “of a very great complexity”, in the words of the Minister of Armies Florence Parly.

Members of the Hubert commando, an elite unit of the French Navy, the master Cédric de Pierrepont and the master Alain Bertoncello were hailed as “heroes” by the entire French political class.

The two French soldiers killed, whilst freeing French hostages in Burkino Faso
The pictures of the soldiers Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello of the Hubert commando carried out by the French Navy. (© NATIONAL MARINE / AFP / HO)

“They gave their lives to free others,” wrote Emmanuel Macron on Twitter.

The hostage liberation operation was “made possible by the mobilization of the means of the French anti-Jihadist force in the Sahel Barkhane, the logistical support of the Burkinabè forces and the American intelligence support,” said the head of state. French major, General François Lecointre.

As for the two other freed hostages, the American and the South Korean, “nobody knew about their presence” in Burkina, he said.

The French followed the evolution of the kidnappers for several days and seized the opportunity to act because of the risk of “transfer of these hostages to another terrorist organization that operates in Mali (…) Katiba Macina” preacher Amadou Koufa , which would have made “impossible to organize any operation of liberation,” he detailed.

The identity of the hostage takers is still unknown.

” Red zone “

“What we can say is that there are two main terrorist movements that operate in this area and are affiliated for one to Al Qaeda, for the other to the EIGS (Islamic State at Large). Sahara), “said French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly.

The jihadist attacks, initially concentrated in northern Mali, have spread to the center of the country and then to Burkina Faso and now threaten the coastal countries of the Gulf of Guinea, previously spared.

“We have to keep up the pressure on these groups,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France 1 Radio on Saturday that the action of the French force Barkhane was “absolutely essential” in this context.

This anti-jihadist force has 4500 soldiers in five countries of the Sahel (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania). Jean-Yves Le Drian recalled that “the area where our two compatriots were was already considered for quite some time as a red zone, that is to say an area where we must not go, where we take risks major if we go.

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