Ouagadougou (AFP) -
Journalists were among three Europeans killed by 'terrorists' in Burkina Faso, a senior security source and Spain's prime minister said Tuesday, after an anti-poaching patrol was attacked in the West African nation.
Madrid confirmed that two of the missing were Spanish journalists, while a security source in Burkina Faso said the third was an Irish citizen.
'It is very unfortunate, but the three Westerners were executed by terrorists,' said a senior security source in Burkina Faso.
He did not specify who was behind the attack targeting the group -- which included soldiers, forest rangers and foreign reporters -- in the eastern region of Fada N'Gourma-Pama on Monday.
At least three people were injured and one Burkinabe was believed to be among the missing.
The attackers used two pick-up vehicles and a dozen motorbikes, according to security sources.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed that two Spaniards were killed in the attack, naming the two victims.
'The worst news is confirmed. All our affection for the relatives and friends of David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, who were murdered in Burkina Faso,' he tweeted.
He praised 'those who, like them, carry out courageous and essential journalism from conflict zones'.
Ireland's foreign ministry did not confirm whether the third victim was a citizen but said it was working with officials in Burkina Faso.
'The department is aware of the reports and is liaising closely with international partners regarding the situation on the ground,' a spokeswoman said in a statement.
- 'Great dangers' -
One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso is struggling with a ruthless insurgency by armed Islamists who swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
Jihadist groups -- some affiliated to al-Qaeda and others to the Islamic State militant group -- have launched increasing numbers of attacks in the country.
Almost 1,100 people have died and more than a million people have fled their homes.
The secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, decried the attack on journalists.
'This tragedy confirms the great dangers reporters face in the Sahel region,' he said on Twitter.
Monday's incident was not the first targeted attack in the country.
A kidnapped priest was found dead in January days after he went missing in the jihadist-plagued southwest, his body found in a forest.
And last August, the grand imam of the northern town of Djibo was found dead three days after gunmen stopped the car he was travelling in and kidnapped him.
In March 2019, a priest in Djibo was kidnapped, and in February 2018, a Catholic missionary, Cesar Fernandez, was murdered in the centre of the country.