French soldiers killed freeing 4 captives in West Africa

European Union leaders on Thursday start to set out a course for increased political cooperation in the wake of the impending depar

European Union leaders on Thursday start to set out a course for increased political cooperation in the wake of the impending depar

Officials said the hostages and their captors were in transit in Burkina Faso and the kidnappers meant to take them to Mali.

French President Emmanuel Macron gave the order for the nighttime raid on Thursday on the militants' camp, in which Mr Picque and Mr Lassimouillas were freed, along with an American woman and a South Korean woman.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that they would be repatriated quickly.

Pendjari National Park is part of a vast wildlife area that stretches across the countries of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger.

French forces have freed two Frenchmen, an American and a South Korean citizen who were being held hostages in Africa's Sahel region, France said on Friday. But as it announced that success, the navy also said it's mourning two special forces soldiers who died in the overnight rescue operation.

All four hostages were safe, President Emmanuel Macron's office said, adding that a U.S. woman and a South Korean woman were also freed in the covert operation. Two French tourists and the Korean national were airlifted on a special plane and arrived in Paris on Saturday.

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.

The identity of the kidnappers is still unknown, and the American and South Korean hostages, who are female, remain unnamed.

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Their guide was later found dead and their captors were tracked to neighboring Burkina Faso.

Commanders chose to act because the kidnappers were close to the Malian border and were believed to be planning to hand the hostages over to the Mali-based militant group Katiba Macina.

The park is on the border with Burkina Faso where Islamist militants have been increasingly active in recent months.

"Our thoughts are for the families of the soldiers and the soldiers who lost their (lives) to free us from this hell", he added, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.

A military ceremony for the commanders is planned for next week.

The other two liberated hostages had apparently already been in the kidnappers' hands for 28 days, General Lecointre said.

"The greatest precautions must be taken in these regions to avoid these types of kidnappings, and avoid the sacrifices required by our soldiers", he said.

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

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