USA hostage rescued in operation that leaves 2 French soldiers dead

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The South Korean defense chief on Friday held telephone talks with the French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, who explained the hostage rescue operation conducted in the West African nation.

France's military said the special forces carried out the raid during a predawn operation Friday, supported by USA intelligence.

"Our thoughts go out to the families of the soldiers, and to the soldiers who lost their lives in freeing us from this hell", Lassimouillas said in a brief statement. But details about how the Korean woman was taken hostage are not known. Two French tourists and the Korean national were airlifted on a special plane and arrived in Paris on Saturday.

The French government had warned its citizens against traveling to parts of Benin near the Burkina Faso border because of the risk of kidnapping. But Seoul has not issued any travel warning in Benin.

What do we know about the raid?

Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State were the main terrorist organisations operating in the area, but French authorities have yet to determine if the kidnappers belonged to either group.

"Once the hostages were in their hands it would have been impossible to rescue them", the General told reporters.

"We are grateful for the safe recovery of hostages, including an American, during a recovery operation in Burkina Faso".

The soldiers were able to creep 200 yards in the dark across open ground to where the hostages were without alerting a sentry.

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French soldiers Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello were killed in the operation.

It was "an operation of rare difficulty" that grew more complex with the discovery of the American and South Korean hostages being held with the French citizens, Parly said.

Two French commandos died in the assault, during which four terrorists were killed.

How were the hostages taken?

Their local guide was found dead.

Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of extremist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Daesh in the Greater Sahara.

The two French tourists were kidnapped in Benin's Pendjari National Park last week.

"We do not have detailed information, but we are in close contact with French authorities".

The American woman was "directly collected by the Americans" in Burkina Faso, a press officer for France's Élysée Palace told CNN. France said it was likely that she would be "repatriated independently" from the other three.