At least 37 civilians were killed and more than 60 wounded in an attack by an unidentified gunman on a convoy transporting workers of Canadian-based gold miner Semafo in eastern Burkina Faso, regional authorities said on Wednesday.
The Montreal-based company said the attack in the country’s restive Est region happened on the road between Fada and the Boungou Mine site, about 40 kilometres from the mine.
The convoy, escorted by military personnel, included five buses transporting Semafo employees, contractors and suppliers, company said.
“Boungou mine site remains secured and our operations are not affected,” the company said in a statement. “We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the on-going safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers.
“The Company would like to express its sincere sympathy to families of the victims in addition to its firm support of Burkina Faso’s security forces.”
Semafo operates the Mana and Boungou Mines in Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency for the country’s border regions, including Est region, on Jan. 1.
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The north of Burkina Faso, which borders on Mali and Niger, has become a staging ground for Islamist extremists.
Militants have targeted mining companies in at least ten separate attacks since September 2017.
On Jan. 15, Canadian geologist Kirk Woodman was kidnapped and killed 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.
According to security experts, the threat from terrorism and kidnapping remains high in Burkina Faso’s Sahel and Est regions.
With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press