Canadian kidnapped in Burkina Faso found dead

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A Canadian kidnapped in a restive region of Burkina Faso has been found dead, a spokesman for the security ministry told Reuters.

The man was abducted on Tuesday by a dozen gunmen on a mining site owned by Vancouver-based Progress Minerals near the border with Niger, an area government says is under growing threat from armed jihadists.

“The Canadian that was found last night in the province of Oudalan,” said spokesman Jean Paul Badoum.

The death will fan concerns that the influence of violent groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State has spread uncontested into Burkina from neighbouring Mali and Niger.

Attacks by Islamist militants surged in the West African country in recent months. A state of emergency in several northern provinces has been in effect since December 31.

Canadian media identified the kidnapped man as Kirk Woodman. In a statement to CTV News, the family asked for privacy.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said government was aware a Canadian was missing in Burkina Faso and was working with local authorities.

Earlier this month, another Canadian man and an Italian woman went missing in Burkina, the security minister said. There has been no word on their fate.

Security deteriorated over the last few years across the remote and arid Sahel region. In response, the United States, France and other European powers sent troops and equipment to stamp out the threat.

Tuesday’s kidnapping occurred on the third anniversary of an attack at a hotel in the centre of Ouagadougou that killed dozens, shocking a country that until then had largely been spared the violence plaguing its neighbours.

That attack was claimed by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.