Burkina Faso ambush: Europeans feared dead after abduction

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image captionBurkina Faso’s security forces are battling to curb an insurgency

Two Spaniards and an Irish national abducted near a nature reserve in eastern Burkina Faso are believed to have died.

Spain’s foreign minister says bodies found in the area appear to be those of two Spanish journalists.

Local security sources say an Irish national was also killed, though this has not been officially confirmed.

The Europeans were part of an anti-poaching patrol that was ambushed by gunmen near Pama Reserve on Monday.

A local soldier was also abducted in the ambush, but further details were not immediately available.

No group said it had carried out the attack.

Burkina Faso is facing a deepening security crisis, like many of its neighbours, as Islamist armed groups carry out raids and kidnappings across much of the region.

What do we know about the attack?

The patrol on Monday included soldiers, forest rangers and foreign reporters.

Two soldiers wounded in the ambush told the Associated Press news agency the attack had been launched by jihadists who had outnumbered the 15-person patrol.

One of the soldiers was shot in the leg and the other in his arm, causing it to be amputated, AP reports.

Vehicles and weapons were seized in the attack.

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image captionBurkina Faso’s nature reserves used to be popular with tourists

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya told reporters the Spanish journalists had been filming a documentary in Burkina Faso.

She said authorities were still awaiting final confirmation of their deaths, telling a news conference: “The situation is confusing.”

Local sources told media outlets that an Irish national on the patrol had also been killed.

In a statement to the BBC, Ireland’s department of foreign affairs said: “The Department is aware of the reports and is liaising closely with international partners regarding the situation on the ground.”

What’s the background?

The kidnappings are the latest in the former French colony where wildlife reserves used to be popular with tourists.

But many of them are in territory now targeted by jihadists.

Militant Islamist groups are believed to be holding several foreigners hostage in Burkina Faso, as well as in the neighbouring states of Mali and Niger, Reuters news agency reports.

The semi-arid region, known as the Sahel, has been hit by an insurgency since the militants captured last parts of northern Mali in 2012 and 2013.

France and other foreign troops have deployed troops to the region but have failed to end the insurgency.

The conflict has displaced nearly three million people.

More on the Sahel crisis:

media captionWhat is the Sahel G-5 force?

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