French hostages freed in Burkina Faso arrive back in Paris

Two French tourists kidnapped while on a safari trip in Benin and who were rescued last week along with two other hostages after their captors transferred them to the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, arrived at a military airfield close to Paris on Saturday where they and a South Korean woman freed with them were greeted by President Emmanuel Macron.

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A French hostage in Burkina Faso, freed in an overnight rescue this week in which two soldiers were killed, described the experience as "hell", reports CNN.

Laurent Lassimouillas was freed along with another Frenchman, an American woman and a South Korean woman in a French-led operation with the support of the US military. The rescue occurred between Thursday and Friday in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso.

"I want to thank French authorities and Burkina Faso ones," Lassimouillas told reporters at the presidential palace in the capital of Ouagadougou before a meeting with Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Burkina Faso's President.

"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.

Lassimouillas, his compatriot, Patrick Picque, and the South Korean landed safely Saturday at a French air force base outside Paris, where French President Emmanuel Macron greeted them. The former hostages will receive a full health examination.

The American woman was "directly collected by the Americans" in Burkina Faso, a press officer for France's Élysée Palace told CNN.

The French citizens were kidnapped May 1st in the neighbouring West African country of Benin, according to the Élysée Palace. Their safari guide was found dead in Pendjari National Park, and their vehicle was burned, Reuters reported.

Four terrorists were killed in the rescue operation, Florence Parly, the French minister for the armed forces, said Friday.

The minister said investigations were underway to identify the kidnappers, noting that networks affiliated with al Qaeda and ISIS are known to operate in the area.

Read more of this report from CNN.



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