Boungou Mine suspends operations following attack

November 11, 2019

An attack by gunmen on a convoy transporting workers of Canadian gold miner Semafo in eastern Burkina Faso left 39 people dead and 60 injured.

Semafo said five of its buses, which were traveling with a military escort, came under fire on the road leading to its Boungou Mine in the East region. The attack is one of the deadliest in years in the West African country as the military struggles to contain Islamist violence that has overrun parts of Burkina Faso. Semafo tightened security last year following armed incidents near two of its mines in the country. 

Reuters reported that two security sources said the military vehicle leading the convoy was struck by an IED on a stretch of road where there is no cellphone network.

Shortly after the initial explosion, an unknown number of gunmen opened fire. One of the sources said it appeared that they targeted the buses as well as the military escort, which was unusual.

“A total of 241 of our employees, contractors and suppliers were involved in the attack,” the company said in a release. On On Nov. 11, Benoit Desormeaux, president and chief executive officer of Semafo said in a statement that the company had begun transportation of people from the mine.

"Many of the people onsite need to be home with their families and to recover from last week's incident,” Desormeaux said. “Most of our senior management team and I are in-country ensuring all those affected are getting the support they require. Our priority continues to be their safety, security and well-being.”

“In addition to the impact on people, the unprecedented scale and nature of the attack has made basic administration and logistics very difficult,” the company said. “It will take some time to evaluate the new operating environment and to assess how we will be able to operate in a safe and secure manner in Burkina Faso. Until such time the Boungou Mine operations will continue to be suspended.”

 

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