Canada is “appalled and deeply saddened” by the killing of a Canadian man reportedly abducted by jihadists in northern Burkina Faso, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday.
Kirk Woodman was kidnapped by a jihadist group that raided a mining operation of Vancouver-based Progress Mineral Mining Company near the country’s restive border with Niger and Mali on Tuesday night, according to Burkinabe security officials.
His bullet-riddled body was discovered Wednesday by locals in Oudalan province about 100 kilometres from the site of the abduction closer to the Mali border, Radio-Canada reported.
“Canada condemns those responsible for this terrible crime,” Freeland said in a statement. “We are working with the government of Burkina Faso and other international partners to pursue those responsible and bring them to justice.”
She also extended the government’s heartfelt condolences to Woodman’s family and loved ones.
“This is a devastating and extremely painful time for them and they have Canada’s full support,” Freeland said.
In an emailed statement to the media Woodman’s son Matt, who is reporter with CTV News in Edmonton, Alberta, said the family found out about the grim discovery Thursday morning.
“Kirk was a loving and hard-working husband, father, son and brother. Not a day will go by that he won’t be missed,” he said in a statement.
Adam Spencer, CEO of Progress Minerals Inc., said the company was “heartbroken” by the news of Woodman’s death, who was kidnapped from the company’s exploration camp in Tiabongou, about 260 kilometres northeast of capital Ouagadougou.
“Kirk was an incredibly accomplished and highly respected geologist with a career spanning over 30 years, with 20 years spent in West Africa. More importantly, Kirk was a kind person, a dedicated father and husband and considered a friend by all who knew him,” Spencer said in an emailed statement.
Progress Minerals will not make additional comments surrounding the circumstances of his death, Spencer said.
“We fully support further enquiry and investigation by the Burkinabe and Canadian governments to bring those responsible for this senseless act to justice,” he said.
No other Canadians or other foreign nationals were kidnapped in the jihadist raid, a company spokesperson said. However, the company did not comment on whether any local employees were also taken or injured in the raid.
Still no news from other missing Canadian
Another Canadian, Edith Blais, 34, and her Italian friend Luca Tacchetto, 30, have been missing since mid-December and are believed to have been kidnapped.
The pair who were travelling in a car were last heard from in the western city of Bobo-Dioulasso on Dec. 15.
Freeland said she spoke with Blais’ family and Canadian officials will continue to provide assistance to them.
Canadian government officials in Burkina Faso are also in contact with local authorities to gather additional information, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Brendan Sutton said in an email.
He would not comment on reports that Blais and Tacchetto have been kidnapped.
“We will not comment on or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of Canadians,” Sutton said.