Montreal-based mining company reports several deaths in Burkina Faso attack

Ten killed in attack on Canadian miner Semafo convoy in Burkina Faso

Ten killed in attack on Canadian miner Semafo convoy in Burkina Faso

An attack on employees of Quebec gold producer Semafo Inc.in Burkina Faso has left 37 people dead and 60 injured. Semafo tightened security previous year following armed incidents near two of its mines in the country.

The attack occurred on the road between the city of Fada and Semafo's flagship Bongou gold mine in the eastern region of Burkina Faso, the Montreal-based company said in a statement Wednesday.

A military escort vehicle was reportedly struck by an explosive device before gunmen opened fire.

After last year's incidents, which Semafo said were perpetrated by "armed bandits", the company reinforced its escorts and made a decision to transport all expatriate employees by helicopter between the Boungou mine and Ouagadougou.

"We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the on-going safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers", the company said.

The five buses were being escorted by the military when they were ambushed, resulting in "several fatalities and injuries", the company added.

"Boungou mine site remains secured and our operations are not affected", Semafo said in its statement.

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After last year's attacks, which Semafo said were perpetrated by "armed bandits", the company reinforced its escorts and chose to transport all expatriate employees by helicopter between the Boungou mine and Ouagadougou.

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

The attack is the deadliest in recent years as the military struggles to contain violence that has overrun parts of Burkina Faso, located in West Africa.

The attacks - typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings - have claimed almost 700 lives across the country since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.

Burkina Faso is an impoverished and politically fragile country in the Sahel, and its security forces are badly equipped, poorly trained and underfunded.

Nearly 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.

The violence underscores the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso, which has been infiltrated by jihadists who have been active for years in neighboring Mali.

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