Hostages freed in Burkina Faso offer condolences for fallen French commandos

Laurent Lassimouillas and Patrick Picque, the two French hostages who were rescued in the operation in Burkina Faso

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Francois Lecointre said the hostages and their captors were in transit in Burkina Faso "with the intention of the kidnappers to take them to Mali", according to French newspaper Le Monde.

Contacts with the United States and South Korea "show that these countries were probably not aware of the presence of their two nationals on Burkina Faso territory", she added.

"Macron is president of all French citizens, even those who do reckless acts", he said.

Two French soldiers were killed in the operation to rescue two French citizens who were kidnapped last week in neighboring Benin. The American, whom Parly said was a woman, was expected to be repatriated separately.

The pre-dawn rescue cost the lives of two French special forces officers, as well as four "terrorists".

Earlier on Saturday, Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore received the French and South Korean citizens in the presidential palace in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Four kidnappers were killed in the raid, the French army said, adding that the USA military had provided intelligence.

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Several U.S. officials told ABC News that the U.S. government was unaware until Friday that the American woman was being held.

Commanders made a decision 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.

"All our thoughts go out to the families of the soldiers and to the soldiers", said one of the French hostages, Laurent Lassimouillas. The region has seen an increase in violence by militants linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State in recent years.

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. Two French soldiers and four kidnappers were killed during the rescue.

Although Benin has always been spared the unrest seen in Mali and Burkina Faso, French officials have warned that jihadist insurgents could extend their operations into the sparsely populated desert regions further south. The Frenchmen spoke about the death of the Beninese park guide, who was killed when they were taken from the safari and transported to the military camp.

"The threat is evolving and has become much more mobile, and now countries to the south of Mali have become targets", Le Drian said on Saturday.

Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger formed the G5 Sahel group in 2014 to co-operate on development and security.

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