Two Spanish Journalists, One Irish National Killed in Burkina Faso Ambush

Two Spanish journalists and an Irish national were killed Monday in eastern Burkina Faso by suspected jihadist insurgents.

The journalists were with an anti-poaching patrol in the Arly National Park when the patrol was attacked by gunmen, according to security sources in the West African country.

The journalists were filming a documentary about how Burkinabe authorities were tackling the poaching issue.

The Spanish government has identified the journalists as David Beriain and Roberto Fraile.

“The worst news is confirmed,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted Tuesday. Sanchez also expressed “appreciation to those who, like them, carry out courageous and essential journalism from conflict zones daily.”

Meanwhile, the Irish government said it was aware of the event and was in close contact with international partners but has not identified the Irish national killed.

One Burkinabe soldier remains missing.

Earlier, Spain’s foreign minister had described the situation as “confusing.” At a news conference, Arancha Gonzalez Laya said she was working with Burkinabe authorities via Spain’s embassy in Mali.

Laya explained the journalists were in a “dangerous area where terrorists, bandits, jihadists usually operate.”

The Associated Press has reported that the jihadist group, al-Qaid-affiliated JNIM, was responsible for the attack.

“We killed three white people. We also got two vehicles with guns and 12 motorcycles,” the AP quoted from an audio message from the group.

Burkina Faso has become a hotbed for jihadists who are increasingly active in the Sahel region, especially in Mali. Kidnapping has soared in the Sahel, with foreigners being lucrative targets for hostage-takers.

Two soldiers injured in the attack told the Associated Press they were outnumbered by the jihadists, who attacked their 15-person patrol. The unnamed soldiers said they aimed to protect the foreigners when the gunmen attacked but saw the assailants had disappeared after the shooting ended.

“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.

Fraile is described as a father of two children and a freelance cameraman whose work took him to conflict-torn countries like Syria, where he survived an attack in Aleppo nine years ago. That attack left shrapnel in his pelvis.

Beriain ran a production house with his wife out of Madrid. His work included reports on armed conflicts, violent groups, and traffickers.

Source: Voice of America

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