Mining company blamed for "bandits or terrorists,quot; for previous attacks"

Clay Curtis
November 8, 2019

Sermafo is a Canadian-based gold producer with two mines, Mana and Boungou in Burkina Faso.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's ambush but the high death toll and targeting of a foreign company's employees suggest that well-armed jihadists carried out the assault.

The ambush by "unidentified armed individuals" took place in the morning, Saidou Sanou, the governor of Est Region, said in a statement.

"We are devastated by this unprecedented attack. Our sincerest sympathies go out to the families and colleagues of the victims", he said in a statement Thursday.

Global Affairs Canada said Thursday it did not have any reports of Canadian citizens being affected by the incident.

The company said the Boungou mine site remains secure, but operations have been suspended out of respect to the victims and those impacted.

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On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Semafo shares dropped 44 cents, or about 11 per cent, to close at $3.49.

It is said to be the third deadliest attack on Semafo staff in 15 months.

The five-bus convoy transporting Semafo national employees, contractors and suppliers was escorted by military personnel when it was attacked some 25 miles from the gold mine, it said. The Boungou mine has since been suspended, with all employees being transported to Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou via helicopter.

Burkina Faso's government said the gunmen had conducted a "complex attack", adding that defence and security forces had launched a relief operation and were searching the area. Our priority is their safety, security and well being.

They include Kirk Woodman, a vice president of exploration for a different Canadian mining company when he was killed at a Progress Minerals Inc. location in Tiabongou in January.

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