France pays tribute to two soldiers killed in raid to free hostages

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PARIS, May 14 (Xinhua) -- France paid tribute on Tuesday during a national ceremony at the Invalides to its two commandos killed in during a military operation to free four hostages in Burkina Faso.

The funeral procession went over the Alexander III bridge in central Paris under the applause of the crowd. Lining the bridge, Paris firefighters, police officers and soldiers had saluted their fallen comrades and chanted the national anthem to pay respect to the sacrifice of the two young officers from the elite Hubert squad of the French navy's special forces.

In the sun-drenched courtyard of the military museum, naval commandos carried their two late colleagues' tricolor-draped coffins into the courtyard at Les Invalides, to a haunting sound of bagpipes instruments.

President Emmanuel Macron, government members, politicians from the left and right and officers attended the ceremony.

Special forces commandos Cedric Pierrepont, 33, and Alain Bertoncello, 28, were killed during a hostage rescue operation in Burkina Faso last week.

"They had died as heroes," said Macron, hailing "unheard-of bravery" of "two exceptional warriors" who did not hesitate to launch a difficult operation without opening fire to not put the hostages' lives at risk.

"Death did not scare you because you had anchored in you the desire to serve others at the cost of your own lives ... A life given is not a life lost..." he addressed the late commandos, stressing that "for free peoples, for great nations, the names of heroes never fade."

After speaking, Macron awarded Pierrepont and Bertoncello the Legion of Honour, France's highest order of merit.

Tributes ended with a minute's silence and a military hymn. Enditem

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