The bodies of two Spanish journalists and an Irish wildlife activist killed by jihadists in Burkina Faso have been repatriated.
David Beriain, Roberto Fraile, and Irish conservationist Rory Young were killed while filming a documentary on poaching on Monday.
One Burkinabe soldier was also killed, according to Spanish authorities.
Both journalists had long experience in conflict zones and had joined Young on an anti-poaching patrol, led by a special military wildlife force in eastern Burkina Faso when their convoy was ambushed by jihadists.
The government of Burkina Faso said six other people were wounded in the attack and one person is still missing.
The bodies of the three European victims were flown overnight from the capital of the African nation, Ouagadougou, on an Airbus provided by the Spanish military.
A guard of honour carried their coffins out of the aircraft at a military airport near Madrid, where relatives of the Spanish journalists awaited with officials and the country’s Irish ambassador.
Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya addressed a brief ceremony on the tarmac, saying it was a “sad day”
“David and Roberto went to lengths to give voice to those who don’t have them, to make visible hard realities surrounding us, and to strengthen democracy.”
The two journalists would be awarded Spain’s Order of Civil Merit, which recognises extraordinary contributions by individuals, the minister added.
The governments of Spain, France, Germany, and Italy said in a joint statement that they were committed to supporting the violence-struck Sahel region with military training and supplies, but also with humanitarian aid to provide much-needed stability there.
“The area is one of enormous turbulence, with great geostrategic risks for our country,” said Gonzalez Laya.
Burkina Faso has been overrun by attacks linked to Islamic extremists that have killed thousands and displaced more than 1 million people.