OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Dozens of people were feared still missing on Thursday after an ambush on workers near a Canadian-owned mine in Burkina Faso killed at least 37 and wounded 60 in the worst such attack in the West African nation for years.
Quebec-based gold miner Semafo said five of its buses with a military escort came under fire on the road leading to its Boungou mine in the eastern region of Est, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Boungou, on Wednesday.
The assailants’ identity was unclear, but Burkina Faso is struggling to combat surging Islamist violence in the remote eastern and northern scrubland areas.
It was unclear how many people were in the convoy, what their nationalities were or how many were missing. Two security sources told Reuters that potentially dozens were still unaccounted for.
Government and military officials declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Canada’s foreign ministry said there were no reports so far of any of its nationals being affected.
Semafo tightened security last year following attacks that killed three workers and five security officials. The measures included flying expatriate employees to mines in helicopters and providing ground military escorts for Burkinabe employees.
Once a pocket of relative calm in the Sahel region, Burkina has suffered a homegrown insurgency for the past three years, amplified by a spillover of jihadist violence and criminality from its chaotic northern neighbour Mali.
Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne