Dozens of people were still missing on Thursday after an ambush 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 Boungou mine in the eastern region of Est 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 exactly how many people were in the convoy, what their nationalities were or how many were missing. But the company has said that under new safety guidelines, Burkinabe employees travel to and from the mine with a military escort by road while international staff fly by helicopter.
Semafo tightened security last year following attacks that killed three workers and five security officials.
Separate sources who worked at the mine said the convoy left weekly carrying about 250 local staff in five buses of 50 to 60 people each.
Security sources told Reuters dozens may still be unaccounted for.
Government and military officials declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Canada’s foreign ministry said there were no reports of any of its nationals affected.
Wednesday’s attack is the worst since jihadist groups with links to Islamic State and al Qaeda began targeting the landlocked nation with high profile attacks in January 2016.
Then, armed al Qaeda militants killed 32 people in a raid on a popular cafe and hotel in Ouagadougou.