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Spain confirms journalists murdered after abduction in Burkina Faso

An Irishman was also taken during the attack.

Soldier at checkpoint in Burkina Faso.
Soldier at checkpoint in Burkina Faso.
Image: Shutterstock

Updated Apr 27th 2021, 2:00 PM

THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT has confirmed that bodies found in Burika Faso are those of two Spanish journalists who were abducted, along with an Irish national and a Burkinabe yesterday. 

They were travelling with an anti-poaching patrol – composed of soldiers, forest rangers and foreign reporters – when attacked in eastern Burkina Faso yesterday, sources said.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has confirmed that the two Spanish journalists who were taken during the ambush were killed.

“The worst news is confirmed. All our condolences for the relatives and friends of David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, who were murdered in Burkina Faso,” he tweeted, praising “those who, like them, carry out courageous and essential journalism from conflict zones”.

Irish authorities have said they are liaising with international partners regarding the situation on the ground. It is understood they have not received a formal request for consular assistance and the Irishman, who is understood to work in conservation, may have dual citizenship. 

Local sources earlier said eyewitness accounts led to fears that the four who were abducted “may have been killed by the terrorists”. However they said they could not authenticate images circulating on social media claiming to show the victims.

The group was targeted in the Fada N’Gourma-Pama area, according to a local official, who added “the provisional toll reports three people injured, four missing”.

The attack was also confirmed by security sources, with one saying the Westerners were “working on behalf of an NGO protecting the environment”.

According to survivors, two of the foreigners were wounded during the attack. The attackers used two pick-up vehicles and a dozen motorbikes, according to security sources.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said it is aware of reports and is liaising closely with international partners regarding the situation on the ground. A spokesperson declined to comment on the details of any specific case.

Sources have said that the situation is “very fluid” in the area and that diplomatic and security efforts were underway to confirm the identities of those missing.

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The Irish Army Ranger Wing have been operating in nearby Mali as part of a UN mission in the area dealing with Islamic armed groups.

Burkina Faso, a poor, landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, has been battling an Islamist insurgency for years.

The nation has endured regular attacks, sometimes intertwined with community conflicts, since jihadists from neighbouring Mali launched raids in 2015.

- © AFP 2021 with reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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