Two Spanish journalists and an Irish citizen have been killed after they were kidnapped during an anti-poaching patrol in Burkina Faso on Monday.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez confirmed the deaths of the Spanish nationals Tuesday in a post on Twitter. “The worst news has been confirmed. All of our affection for the families,” he wrote. Sánchez identified them as David Beriain and Roberto Fraile. The pair were part of a group of 40 people patrolling a national park near the border of Burkina Faso and Benin in West Africa, Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya told a press conference in Madrid Tuesday shortly before their deaths were officially confirmed. González Laya said the journalists — both from northern Spain — had been with an Irish citizen and described the area as “dangerous” because “terrorists and bandits” are known to operate there.
The Spanish journalists were making a documentary on Burkina Faso’s efforts to protect nature preserves, including from poaching, González Laya said. She added authorities are still trying to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the deaths as the information about what really happened was “confusing.” The Irish citizen was later identified as Rory Young, the co-founder and CEO of Chengeta Wildlife, a wildlife protection and anti-poaching charity. The organization confirmed his death on its social media accounts, offering its “thoughts and prayers” to the families and describing Young as an “inspirational leader.” The charity said Young had been leading the wildlife protection patrol with the journalists documenting his work when the group “was attacked by terrorists.” Burkina Faso’s communications ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the group — made up of military forces and foreigners — was attacked by armed individuals while in the Pama reserve on Monday morning.