The bodies of two Spanish journalists and an Irish environmental activist, who were killed in an ambush in Burkina Faso earlier this week, arrived in Madrid on Friday.
The Spanish journalists, Roberto Fraile, 47, and David Beriain, 44, were filming a documentary about poaching in Burkina Faso’s national parks.
They were killed alongside Irish citizen Rory Young, the co-founder of an anti-poaching organization, and another man from Burkina Faso.
“David and Roberto did so much to give voice to the voiceless, shine a light on the tough realities that surround us but are often invisible, and with that, give our democracy the strength it needs,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya, who took part in the official ceremony to receive the bodies at the airbase.
Irish Ambassador to Spain Sile Maguir, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles and the families of the deceased journalists also attended the ceremony.
Gonzalez Laya said Spain is working with Burkina Faso to investigate what happened and bring the culprits to justice.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Burkina Faso authorities said the men were “executed by terrorists.”
Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been dealing with a growing insurgency. It had mostly been limited to the north of the country but has been spilling to other areas, such as the Arli National Park, where the four men were killed.
Landlocked Burkina Faso is also one of the poorest countries in the world and activists say climate change is severely aggravating the humanitarian crisis.
“If we’ve learned anything from this terrible act, it’s been the importance of supporting peace and stability in the Sahel. The Sahel is the neighbor of our neighbors. It’s a zone that is incredibly turbulent and that poses big geopolitical and geostrategic risks for our country,” said Gonzalez Laya.
Spain, France, Germany and Italy released a joint statement on Friday, reiterating their commitment to supporting the Sahel region, both by supporting local armies and promoting socio-economic development.