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An American female hostage also freed in the nighttime rescue on Thursday was handed over to US officials in Burkina Faso.

"Those who want to attack France, the French, should know that we will hunt them, we will find them, and we will kill them", Parly said after joining Macron at the Villacoublay military airport outside Paris.

The two Frenchmen were kidnapped on May 1 during a trip to Benin, a country previously spared by insecurity in West Africa. The American, whom Parly said was a woman, was expected to be repatriated separately.

French President Emmanuel Macron greeted three ex-hostages as they arrived on French soil Saturday, one day after a pre-dawn military operation freed them in Burkina Faso but cost the lives of two French special forces officers, as well as four "terrorists".

"He bows with emotion and solemnity before the sacrifice of our two soldiers who gave their lives to save those of our citizens", it added.

All four hostages were safe, President Emmanuel Macron's office said, adding that a United States woman and a South Korean woman were also freed in the covert operation.

Mr Macron has announced a national tribute will be held next week in Paris in honour of the soldiers.

This photo provided Friday May 10, 2019 by the French army shows navy soldiers Cédric de Pierrepont, left, and Alain Bertoncello.

The identity of the kidnappers is still unknown, and the American and South Korean hostages, who are female, remain unnamed.

The French government had warned its citizens against traveling to parts of Benin near the Burkina Faso border because of the risk of kidnapping.

The badly disfigured body of their wildlife guide was found shortly afterwards, as well as their abandoned four-wheel Toyota truck.

A military ceremony for the commanders is planned for next week.

Four of the six kidnappers were killed, but two French soldiers also died in the raid. The region has seen an increase in violence by militants linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State in recent years.

Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger formed the G5 Sahel group in 2014 to co-operate on development and security.

He promised support to Burkina Faso and Benin in fighting terrorism in the Sahel region.

The raid resulted in the death of two French soldiers.


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