Paris (CNN)A French hostage, freed in Burkina Faso on Thursday during on overnight rescue in which two soldiers were killed, has described the experience as “hell.”
The group were rescued in a French-led operation between Thursday and Friday, with the support of US military.
Speaking to press at the Presidential Palace in Ouagadougou, ahead of a meeting with the President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Lassimouillas said: “I want to thank French authorities and Burkina Faso ones.”
“Our thoughts are for the families of the soldiers and the soldiers who lost their life to free us from this hell,” he added, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.
Lassimouillas and his compatriot, Patrick Picque, will travel to Paris on Saturday to receive a full health examination, before meeting President Emmanuel Macron.
The pair were kidnapped on May 1 while in the neighboring West African country of Benin, according to the Elysee. Their safari guide was found dead in Pendjari National Park and their vehicle was burned, Reuters reported.
Four terrorists were killed in the rescue operation, the French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, said on Friday
She added that investigations were taking place to identify the kidnappers, noting that networks affiliated with al Qaeda and ISIS are known to operate in the area.
The US military supported the French-led rescue operation to free the four hostages, according to two US officials. One of the officials said that the US support was in the form of overhead intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).
French soldiers Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello, who were killed in the operation, will be honored in a “national tribute” on Tuesday, Macron said.
“They gave their lives to release others,” he wrote on Twitter. “From now on, let us carry our thoughts to their families and brothers of arms.”