Spanish Documentarian, Two Others Killed After Abduction While Working On Anti-Poaching Film In West Africa

SAG Foundation/Deadline

Documentary writer-producer David Beriain, a Spanish cameraman and a third man who were abducted Monday while working on a documentary about poaching in Burkina Faso have been killed, according to authorities in Spain.

Beriain, 44, and Roberto Fraile, 47, were embedded with a patrol of more than three dozen Burkinabe troops in the West African nation’s notoriously risky Pama area when they were ambushed and taken by unknown gunmen, according to multiple media reports. The Associated Press identified the third victim as Rory Young, the Irish director of a wildlife foundation. Two others were wounded.

Beriain’s credits including feature and TV documentaries about such dangerous topics the mafia, cartels, human traffickers and arms dealers.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the Associated Press that the group was attacked by “jihadists” who out numbered the patrol. “It is a dangerous area where terrorists, bandits and jihadists usually operate,” she told the wire service.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported today that Peggy Ouedraogo, a communication officer for Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Communication, confirmed via app message that four people had disappeared during the attack Monday in a wildlife reserve. There was no word on the fate of the fourth victim, who reportedly is a soldier.

Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed the deaths of Beriain and Fraile in tweet today. Roughly translated, it reads: “The worst news is confirmed. All the affection for the relatives and friends of David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, murdered in Burkina Faso. And our appreciation to those who, like them, carry out courageous and essential journalism from conflict zones on a daily basis.”

Angela Quintal, Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, issued this statement today:

“Authorities in Burkina Faso must thoroughly and transparently investigate the killings of journalists David Beriain and Roberto Fraile and ensure that those responsible are found and brought to justice. Too often journalists are killed with impunity; authorities must ensure that does not happen in this case, and should find the attackers and the planners of this violent act at once.”

A number of other foreign workers have been kidnapped in recent years in Burkina Faso, a former colony of France. At least two of them remain missing.

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