Bodies of journalists killed in Burkina Faso repatriated

The three coffins of the reporters, two Spanish and one Irish, received by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence, have landed at the Torrejón de Ardoz air base in Madrid
Atalayar_Repatrición cuerpos periodistas

REUTERS/SERGIO PEREZ  -   Spanish Air Force personnel carry the coffins of two Spanish journalists and an Irish citizen who were killed in an armed ambush on an anti-poaching patrol in Burkina Faso

The bodies of the two journalists David Beriáin and Roberto Fraile, kidnapped and later murdered in Burkina Faso, have been received at the Torrejón de Ardoz air base in Madrid. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, and of Defence, Margarita Robles, received the coffins on behalf of the government and with full honours.

The coffins of the two Spanish journalists, together with that of the Irish journalist who was with them, arrived at 9:00 a.m. on Friday in an Air Force plane from the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou. The coffins of the three deceased were received by a military cordon of honour and carried on the shoulders of twenty-four Air Force soldiers.

Along with the Spanish ministers, the Irish Ambassador to Spain, Sile Maguire, was also present to receive the remains of the Irish journalist. In addition, relatives of the reporters were waiting to receive them, but were not on the tarmac. The bodies of Beriáin and Fraile will be taken to the towns of Artajona and Valdespino Cerón.

Atalayar_Repatrición cuerpos periodistas
REUTERS/SERGIO PEREZ - Spanish Air Force personnel carry the coffins of two Spanish journalists and an Irish citizen who were killed in an armed ambush on an anti-poaching patrol in Burkina Faso, at the military air base in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain

The three journalists were killed on Monday while working with a group of 40 people on a report on poaching. They were trapped in a trap by armed people, an attack that was later reported by local media and in which three were wounded and four were kidnapped.

The Spanish journalists lost contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at 15:30 that Monday, and their whereabouts were last known at the location of a nature park in the border region between Burkina Faso and Benin.

Despite the lack of clarity in the matter, the Burkina Faso government has pointed to "terrorists" as responsible for the events, but the foreign minister said Thursday that the information available is still "very preliminary", calling on the authorities of the African country to continue investigating to clarify the facts.

Atalayar_Repatrición cuerpos periodistas
AFP/JAVIER SORIANO - David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, two reporters with experience of working in conflict zones, were accompanying Irish wildlife activist Rory Young in Arly National Park in southeastern Burkina Faso when they were killed in an attack on an anti-poaching patrol

She also referred to the "communiqué from a jihadist group that has taken responsibility for the attack", in reference to the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), the Al-Qaeda affiliate in the Sahel, which is said to have published an audio message claiming responsibility for what happened, although she pointed out that "this is not enough". "We want all the facts to be clarified," he says.

For this reason, the government has asked the Burkina Faso authorities to "investigate the facts, clarify them and identify those responsible so that they can be brought to justice", said González Laya, stressing that such "terrible" events as the one that occurred cannot "fall into oblivion or impunity".

Burkina Faso, like much of the Sahel region of West Africa, faces a deepening security crisis as groups with links to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State intensify attacks on the army and civilian population despite the presence of French and UN forces.

Atalayar_Repatrición cuerpos periodistas
AFP/ JAVIER SORIANO - Spanish air force personnel carry one of the three coffins containing the bodies of Spanish journalists David Beriain and Roberto Fraile and the head of the Irish NGO Rory Young, killed in eastern Burkina Faso

David Beriáin (Artajona, 1977) was one of Spain's most internationally recognised investigative journalists. He was a member of the Association of Journalists of Navarre and FAPE, and his career included, among others, conflicts in Afghanistan, Sudan, Congo, Libya or in various South American countries, such as Mexico and Colombia, where he achieved exclusive interviews with FARC leaders, as well as his documentary 'Clandestine Amazon', which was considered one of the best documentaries in the world, according to the Real Screen Award.

For his part, the photojournalist who accompanied Beriáin, Roberto Fraile (Baracaldo, 1974), also had extensive experience on the international scene. He lived in Salamanca and had two children.

Rory Young, the Irish journalist, was the founder of the NGO Chengeta Wildlife and was with them at the time of the attack in eastern Burkina Faso.