Two Spanish journalists who went missing earlier this week in eastern Burkina Faso were killed in an ambush, Spain’s government has confirmed.

The two Spaniards, along with a Burkinabe national and an Irish citizen, disappeared on Monday near a national park close to the border with Benin after armed individuals attacked a convoy of security forces and expatriates.

“The worst of news is confirmed,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on his Twitter account on Tuesday, sending his condolences to the two men’s families. He named them as David Beriain and Roberto Fraile.

Se confirma la peor de las noticias. Todo el cariño para los familiares y allegados de David Beriain y Roberto Fraile, asesinados en Burkina Faso. Y nuestro reconocimiento a quienes, como ellos, realizan a diario un periodismo valiente y esencial desde las zonas de conflicto.

— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) April 27, 2021

Translation: The worst news is confirmed. All the affection for the relatives and friends of David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, murdered in Burkina Faso. And our recognition to those who, like them, carry out courageous and essential journalism from conflict zones on a daily basis.

The Spanish nationals are from northern Spain and were working on a documentary on how Burkina Faso’s authorities were tackling poaching and on the communities of people living in the park, Arancha González Laya, Spain’s foreign affairs minister, said in a news conference earlier on Tuesday. They were traveling at the time of the attack in a group with about 40 people, she added.

“It is a dangerous area where terrorists, bandits, jihadists usually operate.”

Burkina Faso has in recent years been gripped by escalating violence that has spread across the Sahel region to several countries including Niger and Mali. Its government confirmed earlier on Tuesday that four people – three foreigners and a Burkinabe national – had gone missing. Security sources quoted by news agencies had said the three foreigners had been found dead but in a statement the government said alleged photos of the bodies now circulating on social media had not been formally identified as being those of the missing.

The Irish government, meanwhile, said it was “aware of the reports and is liaising closely with international partners regarding the situation on the ground”.

Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, said on Twitter the press watchdog had learned from official sources in Burkina Faso that three journalists, including two Spanish reporters, who were investigating poaching “were killed in an attack in the east of the country”.

We have learned from official sources in #burkinaFaso that three journalists (including two Spanish reporters) who were investigating poaching were killed in an attack in the east of the country yesterday. This tragedy confirms the great dangers reporters face in the Sahel region

— Christophe Deloire (@cdeloire) April 27, 2021

Two soldiers wounded in the attack and evacuated to a military hospital in the capital, Ouagadougou, told The Associated Press news agency they were attacked by an armed group who outnumbered their 15-person patrol.

One soldier was shot in the leg and the other in his arm, causing it to be amputated.

When the fighters attacked, the soldiers tried to form a protective shield around the foreigners, but once the shooting stopped they realised they had disappeared, one of the soldiers said.

“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.

The foreigners had been traveling with the rangers for approximately one week. Two of them were journalists and one was a trainer, said the soldiers. The rangers were conducting their first mission in Arly National Park after finishing a six-month anti-poaching training program, he said.

Attacks by al-Qaeda and ISIL-affiliated groups since 2015 have killed almost 1,100 people and displaced more than a million across Burkina Faso. Numerous other foreign workers have been kidnapped.

In January this year, a priest went missing in the country’s southeast, sparking fears he had been kidnapped.

Last August, the grand imam of the northern town of Djibo was found dead three days after gunmen stopped the car he was travelling in and kidnapped him.

In March 2019, a priest in Djibo was kidnapped, and in February 2018, a Catholic missionary, Cesar Fernandez, was murdered in the centre of the country.

This content was originally published here.

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