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Hero Irish environmentalist Rory Young killed after staying behind to help injured colleague

The jihadist attack in the west African country took place despite the three being accompanied by a large and heavily armed caravan.


Rory Young

Rory Young

Rory Young

Irish environmentalist Rory Young and Spanish journalist David Beriain died after staying to assist a colleague during a jihadist attack in Burkina Faso, an initial report has found. 

Roberto Fraile had been badly injured and could barely move and all three men were subsequently killed, according to the report in Spanish newspaper El Pais.

The ambush in the west African country took place despite the three being accompanied by a large and heavily armed caravan. The report is based on the account of a Burkinabe soldier who was part of the group.

The group, working a report on poaching in the south east of the country, were part of a “heavily armed caravan, with about 30 troops, two pick-up trucks and a dozen motorcycles” organised by the NGO Chengeta Wildlife.

Despite these security measures, the group in which Young, Beriain and Fraile were travelling was surprised by the attack by the group on April 26th.

The newspaper reports that a three-hour combat began after “they came across a camp where a black flag was waving with an inscription in Arabic (symbol of Al Qaeda)” according to the solider. They then came under attack from three different flanks.

The soldiers decided to retreat and urged the men to leave, but they did not want to leave their injured colleague. They “urged Beriain and Young to flee, leaving their partner behind, but they did not want to do so and stayed with him,” he said.

The following day the Burkinabe Army returned to the place of the attack with reinforcements, where all that remained were the bodies of the three men.

The Islam and Muslim Support Group, which has links to Al Qaeda, later claimed responsibility for the attack in an audio recording.

Investigators are examining why the men weren’t kidnapped to raise funds, as had happened just days earlier with a French journalist.

Mr Young, an anti-poaching activist who was a passionate wildlife protector and environmentalist, was killed along with the two Spanish journalists accompanying him in April.

His body was flown back to Europe and then transported to the Netherlands, where he lived with his Dutch wife and children. The 48-year-old was head of the Changeta Wildlife group.

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Just days before his death, he had spoken about the dangers involved in his work and how a near-death experience had prompted him to set up the organisation.

He had been struck by lightning and badly injured a number of years before.

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