Two Spanish journalists and an Irish activist were killed in Burkina Faso, Africa on Tuesday (27). They had been kidnapped while making a documentary on poaching in the country.
The victims are journalists David Beriain and Roberto Fraile and environmentalist Rory Young. They were making recordings on a road that joins Fada N’Gourma and Pama, in the south-east of the country, on Monday morning (26), when they were attacked.
The professionals were in a convoy patrolling an area where poaching was taking place. A group of armed men attacked the group and kidnapped the three foreigners. There was intense research in the area, until the government confirmed that the three had been killed on Tuesday (27).
The road was in poor condition and was surrounded by dense vegetation, which facilitated the ambush. “When the track is deteriorated, you cannot drive fast [para fugir]Rachid Palenfo, police commissioner in Burkina Faso, told Reuters.
Beriáin, 43, was a war correspondent in Iraq and Afghanistan. He worked for vehicles such as CNN +, Discovery and La Voz de Galicia, before founding the production company 93 Metros, specializing in documentaries on danger zones and armed conflict. Throughout his career, he has interviewed members of the FARC, the Taliban and fighters in countries like Congo and Libya, as well as traffickers and murderers for hire.
Fraile, 47, was acting as a cameraman and was injured in Syria in 2012. He worked for TV CyLTV (León and Castille channel). Rory Young was an advocate for wildlife conservation and founded the NGO Chengeta Wildlife Foundation.
Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group JNIM claimed responsibility for the attack. To prove it, he showed pictures of objects believed to have been dead.
Their death caused unrest in Spain. “The worst news is confirmed,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said. He expressed his “gratitude to those who, like them, exercise courageous and essential journalism on a daily basis in conflict zones”.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said that “the terrorists have once again shown their cowardice and their criminal face: the defenders of an obscurantism which destroys all freedom of expression”.
“This tragedy confirms the great dangers facing journalists in the Sahel,” Christophe Deloire, secretary general of the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF), told Paris.
Spanish newsrooms and television channels paid a minute’s silence in honor of the victims. The bodies of the three will be taken to Europe on a flight sent by the Spanish government, on a date to be confirmed.
Since 2015, jihadist attacks have been more and more frequent in the country. Initially, attacks attributed to jihadist groups – such as the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) – took place in the north of the country, the border with Mali. But over time, they spread to the capital and other areas, mainly to the east and northwest.
Over the past six years, violent actions have left more than 1,200 people dead and more than a million homeless.
During the period, there were also several kidnappings of foreigners in Burkina Faso. An Australian couple were kidnapped in Djibo, on the border with Mali and Niger, in January 2016, in an action apparently coordinated with attacks in Ouagadougou. That night, the jihadists opened fire in cafes, restaurants and hotels, killing 30 and injuring 71.
The kidnappers turned over the woman, Jocelyn Elliot, to Nigerian authorities about a year later. The man is still missing.
In December 2018, an Italian-Canadian couple disappeared on the highway between Bobo-Dioulasso and Ouagadougou. He was released in neighboring Mali, after more than a year in captivity.