Attack near Semafo mine in Burkina Faso results in the death of at least 37

MONTREAL — An attack on employees of Quebec gold producer Semafo Inc. in Burkina Faso has left 37 people dead and 60 injured.

The attack occurred about 40 kilometres from the Boungou mine — one of the two sites operated by the company in the West African country — when a convoy of five buses accompanied by a military escort was ambushed.

The military vehicle ahead was reported to have struck an explosive device. The rest of the convoy was then shot by “unidentified armed individuals,” according to a statement signed by the governor of the eastern region, Col. Saidou Sanou.

“A search by the defence and security forces is underway in the area,” he said.

Semafo said in a statement that the Boungou mine site “remains safe and our operations have not been affected.”

“We are working actively with all concerned authorities to ensure the health and safety of our employees, contractors and suppliers.”

Nobody was available at the company’s site in Africa in the late afternoon to provide further details. The origin of the victims was unknown. For several years Burkina Faso has been the scene of violent attacks attributed to jihadist fighters.

Based in Montreal, Semafo, which has 1,200 employees, including 85 expatriates at its Mana and Boungou sites. It had previously faced security challenges on roads leading to its facilities. That prompted the mining company to take additional measures to ensure the safety of its personnel, such as transporting its non-local employees by helicopter.

“So far, we do not have reports of Canadian citizens affected by the incident,” Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Angela Savard wrote in an email to The Canadian Press.

In August 2018, a Semafo employee and a subcontractor were killed when a bus carrying workers was targeted by bandits and five police officers were killed in another attack a few days earlier.

In December 2018 the gold producer reported that government security forces had been attacked on a road about 40 kilometres from the Boungou mine, resulting in five deaths.

Semafo is not the only Canadian mining company operating in Burkina Faso. Iamgold Corp. and Roxgold Inc. employ 2,200 and 800 employees in the country, respectively.

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

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2019.

Companies in this story: (TSX:SMF, TSX:IMG, TSX:ROXG)

Julien Arsenault, The Canadian Press

Burkina Faso Attack

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central Alberta woman receives North American award for leading Red Deer Regional Health Foundation

Manon Therriault at the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation has always embraced… Continue reading

Families displaced after Red Deer fire Sunday

A structure fire displaced two families in north Red Deer Sunday morning.… Continue reading

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

In its place is employment insurance, which the government says the majority of people will go on

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 27

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00… Continue reading

WE Charity controversy prompts examination of group’s overseas footprint

On Sept. 9, WE Charity said it would wind down its Canadian operations

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Nearly 1M who died of COVID-19 also illuminated treatment

The nearly 1 million people around the world who have lost their… Continue reading

Toronto health officer closes 3 restaurants as result of COVID contact tracing

Toronto’s top public health official has ordered the closure of three downtown… Continue reading

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

CALGARY — Canadian ski resort operators planning for a season that begins… Continue reading

Tenille Townes, Dean Brody and Brett Kissel top nominees at tonight’s CCMA Awards

OTTAWA — Tenille Townes could be lined up for some major wins… Continue reading

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

TERRACE, B.C. — Health care in the era of COVID-19 took centre… Continue reading

Watchdog to investigate fatal Winnipeg crash that sent two kids to hospital

Winnipeg police say a woman has died and five others — including… Continue reading

The ‘relentless underdog’: Green Leader Sonia Furstenau ready for uphill battle

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau was driving Monday when she turned on the… Continue reading

Mi’kmaq power, inside and beyond Ottawa, stronger than in past fishery battles

HALIFAX — When Jaime Battiste was in his early 20s, cable news… Continue reading

Most Read