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Two French tourists kidnapped, local guide killed in Benin

Stefan Heunis, AFP | Pendjari park in Benin is a vast area of 4,800 square kilometres that lies near the porous border with Burkina Faso, which has been hard hit by militant violence.

Two French tourists were kidnapped and their local guide was killed in Benin on May 1, regional sources told FRANCE 24 overnight.

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"Mauritanian and Malian sources confirm that the driver was found shot dead. The vehicle carrying them was burned and was found less than a hundred kilometres from the border in Burkina Faso," according to FRANCE 24's correspondant in Benin, Emmanuelle Sodji.

Diplomatic and security sources confirmed on Friday that two French tourists and their guide had been missing in northwestern Benin since Wednesday.

The French couple were expected to return Wednesday evening to their hotel in Benin's Pendjari National Park, a remote area some 550 kilometres (340 miles) north of Benin's economic capital Cotonou.

They are being "actively sought" with the help of authorities in Benin, a source in France's foreign ministry said.

Benin is generally considered an island of stability in West Africa, a troubled region where many jihadist groups operate, but Pendjari lies on the porous and remote border with Burkina Faso, which has been hard hit by militant violence.

In recent months, security sources have warned that Atlantic coast countries such as Togo and Benin were vulnerable to the expansionist strategies of militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

Pendjari, one of the largest remaining sites for elephants and lions in West Africa, is a vast area of 4,800 square kilometres but also part of a far larger wilderness area spreading into Burkina Faso and Niger to the north.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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