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No fewer than 3 European journalists – two Spaniards and one Irish were killed in the western African nation of Burkina Faso after their anti-poaching patrol was ambushed yesterday.
A senior security source in the West African nation said; ‘It is very unfortunate, but the three Westerners were executed by terrorists’.
He however declined to specify who was behind Monday’s attack targeting the group, which included soldiers, forest rangers, and foreign reporters, in the eastern region of Fada N’Gourma-Pama.
At least three people were injured and one Burkinabe national was missing. The attackers used two pick-up vehicles and a dozen motorbikes, according to security sources.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed that two Spaniards were killed, naming the two victims. ‘The worst news is confirmed. All our affection for the relatives and friends of David Beriain and Roberto Fraile (de Baracaldo), who were murdered in Burkina Faso,’ he tweeted.
He praised ‘those who, like them, carry out courageous and essential journalism from conflict zones.’
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told a news conference that the two men were ‘making a documentary on the measures taken by Burkina Faso to protect national parks, to protect natural resources from poaching and to protect the populations living in the natural parks.’
She said Beriain was from Pamplona in Spain’s north while Fraile was from the northern Basque country. Beriain was a war reporter who worked for a now-defunct Spanish branch of CNN and had founded his own production house specializing in documentaries on illegal activities.
According to Spanish media reports, he was wounded in Syria at the end of 2012 while covering the Free Syrian Army. Both were described as seasoned war journalists.
Adriano Moran from Beriain’s production house 93Metros said they had only been in Burkina Faso for a short while. ‘Both of them knew that it was difficult terrain and that such a thing may happen. And the worst happened,’ he told correspondents.
‘David was one of the great journalists of the country and the world,’ he said. ‘He had received many prizes.’ Moran said Beriain had a satellite phone with him but had been incommunicado for the past few days.
Ireland’s foreign ministry did not provide details, simply saying it ‘has been in contact with the family of the Irish citizen and is providing all possible consular support.’
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the ‘terrorists have once again shown their cowardice and criminal face: the defenders of an obscurantism which annihilates all freedom of expression and speech.’
One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso is struggling with a ruthless insurgency by armed extremists who swept in from neighboring Mali in 2015.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK