President Emmanuel Macron greeted three former hostages as they arrived on French soil, one day after a military operation freed them in Burkina Faso.
"Two French soldiers died in the rescue operation".
Macron will lead a national tribute to the men, both officers in the naval special forces, at the Les Invalides military hospital and mausoleum in Paris on Tuesday.
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Four kidnappers were killed in the raid, the French army said, adding that the American military had provided intelligence.
The raid that saved the hostages happened Thursday night in the Western African nation of Burkina Faso, France says. In February, Burkina Faso said militants were increasingly active in West Africa and instability in the Sahel was spreading to coastal countries such as Benin and Ivory Coast.
"Our first thoughts go to the families of the soldiers who freed us from this hell".
Their guide's body was found on Sunday, riddled with bullets, and the vehicle that he and the tourists used was found burned out across the border in Burkina Faso.
French Special Forces carried out the raid under cover of dark over the night of Thursday-Friday, supported by U.S. intelligence and troops from France's Barkhane operation deployed in the Sahel region to counter Islamist militants.
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A military ceremony for the commandos is planned for next week.
The two Frenchmen, Laurent Lassimouillas and Patrick Picque, and the South Korean woman, who has not yet been identified, met Burkinabe President Roch Kabore at the presidential palace in the capital Ouagadougou. "The greatest precaution must be taken in these regions to prevent such abductions from taking place and to avoid the sacrifice of our soldiers".
Tracking the kidnappers to a remote shelter, French troops moved in.
Macron also thanked the Beninese and Burkinabé authorities for their "perfect cooperation" and reaffirmed France's commitment to fighting terrorism in the Sahel region.
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