Ambush on mining company convoy kills 37 in Burkina Faso
Gunmen attacked a convoy near a Canadian mining site in Burkina Faso, killing at least 37 people and wounding 60 others, the regional governor said on Wednesday.
Montreal-based Semafo said the incident occurred about 40 kilometres from its Boungou mine in Burkina Faso’s eastern region as five buses of employees were being accompanied by a military escort.
Col Saidou Sanou, the region’s governor, announced the provisional toll, while the mining company said only that it was aware of “several fatalities and injuries”.
“The Boungou mine site remains secured and our operations are not affected,” Semafo said. “We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers.”
The area has become increasingly precarious for Semafo, which operates two gold mines in Burkina Faso. Last year, an employee and subcontractor died after a bus was hit by bandits, Canadian Press reported.
Later that year five members of Burkina Faso’s security forces were killed after being attacked near the Boungou mine.
The violence underscores the deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso, which has been infiltrated by extremists who have been active for years in neighbouring Mali.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the convoy attack but suspicion fell on militants who have launched scores of attacks on churches and public officials across the north of Burkina Faso in the past few years.
Concerted military actions by five regional countries, along with a French operation, have failed to stem the growing violence in once-peaceful Burkina Faso.
The country, which experienced its first major extremist attack in 2015, is a gateway south into coastal West Africa and regional leaders worry the extremists could be moving into Togo and Benin.