Two French soldiers were killed during a rescue operation to free four tourists kidnapped in the Sahel region of Africa, the Elysee Palace has confirmed. The operation took place on Thursday night into the early hours of Friday.

The two soldiers have been named as Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello, both members of France’s special forces.

Two French hostages, captured in Benin on May 1, as well as a US citizen and South Korean national were successfully freed in the operation.

In a statement, French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated the armed forces for successfully freeing the hostages and thanked the families of the deceased servicemen for their sacrifice. Macron also thanked the Beninese and Burkinabé authorities for their “perfect cooperation” and reaffirmed France’s commitment to fighting terrorism in the Sahel region.

There are no confirmed reports of casualties among the kidnappers.

France’s Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly confirmed the deaths in an online statement and offered her condolences to the families of the dead soldiers.

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