Canadian miner Semafo halts operations at Burkina Faso site after deadly attack

The SEMAFO company logo is seen in this file image

The SEMAFO company logo is seen in this file image

An attack Wednesday on a convoy headed to a Canadian-owned gold mine in Burkina Faso has left 37 dead and more than 50 wounded.

Assailants ambushed a five-bus convoy carrying Semafo employees on a road between the town of Fada and the Boungou gold mine in Burkina Faso's eastern region of Est early Wednesday.

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

The company said the incident happened approximately 40 km from the Boungou Mine site but its operations have not been affected by the attack. 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 global staff are flown by helicopter.

This latest incident is said to be the third deadliest attack on Semafo staff in 15 months.

Later past year, five members of Burkina Faso's security forces were killed in an attack near the Boungou mine. When contacted by Reuters, Semafo said it had no further comment.

The Montreal-based company has two locations in the African country, which has been engulfed in jihadist violence for almost five years.

Jihadist violence has plagued Burkina Faso in recent years.

It also raises questions about Semafo and its effort to guarantee the safety of its employees as the country sinks deeper into strife.

The attacks - normally hit-and-crawl raids on villages, avenue mines and suicide bombings - agree with claimed bigger than 630 lives nationally, in accordance to an AFP toll.

About 500,000 people in Burkina Faso have been forced to flee their homes over the past three months, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

As the attacks have escalated, several military outposts in the northern part of the country have been abandoned by poorly trained and ill paid security forces.

Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency for the country's border regions, including Est region, on January 1. In August this year, the army suffered its worst attack with 24 soldiers killed in an assault on a base in Koutougou, near the Mali border.

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