Two Spanish citizens and an Irish national have been killed by gunmen in Burkina Faso, according to security sources in the country. The three were taken hostage after an ambush on an anti-poaching patrol in eastern Burkina Faso on Monday.
Spain's foreign ministry confirmed that two Spanish nationals had been killed in an ambush in the east of the country.
The attackers were aboard two pick-up vehicles and a dozen motorbikes, according to security sources, which said the assailants made off with vehicles and various weapons after the attack.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya confirmed during a press conference that two of the bodies found in Burkina Faso were those of the missing Spanish journalists.
Los dos periodistas españoles asesinados en Burkina Faso son David Beriain y Roberto Fraile.
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The two, David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, were working on a documentary on how Burkina Faso authorities were tackling poaching and on the communities of people living in the wildlife park.
"It is a dangerous area where terrorists, bandits, jihadists usually operate," she said.
The government of Burkina Faso confirmed only that four abducted individuals - three foreigners and a Burkinabe national - were still missing, underscoring that alleged photos of the victims' bodies now circulating on social media had not been formally identified.
The Irish government has said it was "aware of the reports and is liaising closely with international partners regarding the situation on the ground".
Two soldiers wounded in the attack and evacuated to a military hospital in Ouagadougou earlier told AP they were attacked by jihadists who outnumbered their 15-person patrol.
One soldier was shot in the leg and the other in his arm, requiring it to be amputated. They insisted on anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the press. When the jihadists attacked, the soldiers tried to form a protective shield around the foreigners, but once the shooting stopped they realised they had disappeared, he said.
"We were discouraged. It's like you leave your house with 10 people, you go to work and then you come back with eight people. What do you say to those two people's families?" said one of the soldiers.
Anti-poaching training programme
The foreigners had been travelling with the rangers for approximately one week, two of them were journalists and one was a trainer, said the soldiers. The rangers were conducting their first mission in Arly National Park after finishing a six-month anti-poaching training programme, he said.
Numerous other foreign workers have been kidnapped in recent years in the former French colony.
Burkina Faso, one of the world's poorest countries, is struggling with a ruthless insurgency by armed Islamists who swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015. Almost 1,100 people have died and more than a million people have fled their homes.