Fri, Nov 08, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Attack in Burkina Faso kills 37

MINERS SLAIN:Five buses, which had a military escort, tripped an explosive device and were fired upon as they traveled to a gold mine, the mining company said

AFP, OUAGADOUGOU

An ambush on Wednesday on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in Burkina Faso killed 37 people, the deadliest attack in nearly five years of violence in the west African nation.

The Sahel country has been struggling to quell a rising revolt among Muslim militants that has claimed hundreds of lives since early 2015.

On Wednesday morning “unidentified armed individuals” ambushed five buses carrying local employees, contractors and suppliers of Samafo, a mining company, Est Region Governor Saidou Sanou said.

Sixty people were wounded, Sanou said.

Mine owner Semafo Inc said that the five buses escorted by the military were approximately 40km from the Boungou gold mine in Tapoa Province when they were ambushed.

A security source said “a military vehicle that was escorting the convoy hit an explosive device.”

“Two buses carrying workers were then fired upon,” the source told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The gunmen had conducted a “complex attack,” the Burkinabe government said, adding that defense and security forces had launched a relief operation and were searching the area.

It was the third deadly attack on Canadian firm Semafo, which operates two mines in Burkina Faso, in 15 months.

“We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers,” Semafo said in a statement, offering condolences to the families of those killed and injured.

The mine itself remains secure and its operations had not been affected, it said.

Two separate attacks on convoys carrying Boungou mine employees in August last year and December last year killed 11 people.

The company blamed “armed bandits” for those attacks and reinforced its armed escorts.

The government this year asked mining companies to make their own arrangements to transport employees, sources close to the miners said.

Burkina Faso’s northern provinces have been battling a nearly five-year wave of violence that came from Mali.

The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed nearly 700 lives across the country since early 2015. Almost 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.

The attacks have been claimed by a groups including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The nation’s security forces have been unable to stem the violence, which has intensified throughout this year to become almost daily.

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