At least 37 people were killed and several injured after gunmen ambushed a convoy transporting workers of Canadian gold miner Semafo in eastern Burkina Faso on Wednesday, according to regional authorities.
Saidou Sanou, the governor of Est Region, said in a statement that the ambush by “unidentified armed individuals” took place in the early hours of the day.
The five buses escorted by the military were approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Boungou gold mine when they were ambushed, resulting in “several fatalities and injuries,” mine owner Semafo Inc. said in a statement.
“We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers,” Semafo said while offering condolences to the families of the victims.
The mine itself remains secure and its operations had not been affected, the statement further added.
Two security sources said that the military vehicle leading the convoy was struck by an IED on a stretch of road where there is no cellphone network.
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.
Semafo tightened security last year following armed incidents near two of its mines in the country.
On Monday, an attack on a base in northern Burkina Faso that left five gendarmes and five civilians dead.
Nearly 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.
In December, a police vehicle was attacked on the same road, resulting in five deaths.
Last year, Semafo, which operates two mines in Burkina Faso, was hit by two deadly attacks.
Burkina Faso is an impoverished and politically fragile country in the Sahel, and its security forces are badly equipped, poorly trained and underfunded.