A daring mission to rescue hostages who were being held by suspected Islamic militants in western Africa was not without complications.
While four hostages, including an American, were rescued, two French soldiers lost their lives.
The Rescue Mission
The mission to rescue the hostages was carried out in Burkina Faso, a small West African country bordered by Mali and Niger.
Two hostages, French nationals Laurent Lassimouillas and Patrick Pique, had been captured last week while on safari in the Pendjari National Park in Benin, on the border of Burkina Faso.
The rescuers were not previously aware of the existence of the other two hostages, an American woman and a South Korean national, who reportedly had been held by the kidnappers for 28 days.
The two soldiers killed during the rescue have been identified as Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello. Both were decorated members of the French special forces.
The area where the hostages were being held is regarded as one of the most unstable in the region.
Much of the hostilities are related to a recent election in the parliament in March. When only two parties were deemed to be eligible to take part in the elections, both loyal to President Patrice Talon, tempers flared.
An unnamed source stated, “This generated a high level of vulnerability coupled with instability in the borders of Burkina Faso. The kidnap has all the markings of the interplay between organized kidnapping gangs and jihadists groups. The death of the two French Special Forces indicates the strength and depth of these groups in capacity, local knowledge, and atmospherics.”
From reports, it would seem that Islamic extremists are now flocking to this area and becoming more and more active in the area. The kidnappers have not been identified yet, but are suspected to be tied to either the Islamic State or Al Quaeda.
Terrorists often use kidnappings as a way to fund their operations, so tourists are being cautioned from traveling to the area.
The State Department issued a formal travel advisory for this area in April.