Row as France remembers soldiers slain in hostage raid in Burkina Faso

Paris: France paid its emotional final respects on Tuesday to two commandos killed during a raid to rescue four hostages in the Sahel region of Africa last week that has sparked a row over the risks taken by the freed tourists.
French special forces Cedric de Pierrepont, 33, and Alain Bertoncello, 28, who died in the operation in Burkina Faso, were honoured at a ceremony at the Invalides military complex in Paris led by President Emmanuel Macron.
Crowds joined soldiers, firefighters and veterans in lining the bridge leading up to the imposing 17th-century building as the motorcade carrying their coffins made its solemn procession through a sun-lit Paris.
“France is a country that does not abandon its children, no matter the circumstances,” a visibly emotional Macron said in his speech during a 45-minute ceremony attended by tearful family members and masked fellow special forces.
The raid last week freed French hostages Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, who were seized on May 1 while on a safari trip in a nature park in Benin close to the border with Burkina Faso.
An American citizen and South Korean tourist — both women whose presence was a total surprise to the French forces — were also sprung from captivity in the operation overnight on Thursday-Friday.
There has been an outpouring of grief in France over the sacrifice of the two soldiers, but also criticism of the French tourists who were visiting an area subject to a travel warning by the foreign ministry.
Leading French daily Le Figaro in an editorial on Monday said the freeing of the tourists had “left a bitter taste”. On Saturday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reprimanded the freed men, aged 51 and 46, for taking “significant risks” by visiting an area that was considered a “red” no-go zone under travel advice issued by his ministry.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen also criticised Macron over the weekend for going to a military airport south of Paris to meet the tourists off the plane when they arrived back from Burkina Faso. French officials have argued that the raid came in a key window of opportunity as the hostage-takers were planning to transfer their victims to militant groups in Mali aligned to either Al Qaeda or IS.