United Nations chief condemns attack on mining convoy in Burkina Faso

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"Certainly, in Burkina Faso and that far eastern part where this bad incident occurred, there's been a depreciating security environment for a while".

In a separate statement, Geodrill Ltd said two of its employees were killed in the incident.

Sermafo is a Canadian-based gold producer with two mines, Mana and Boungou in Burkina Faso.

In August 2018, a Semafo employee and a subcontractor were killed when a bus carrying workers was targeted by bandits and five police officers were killed in another attack a few days earlier.

Burkina Faso's previous deadliest attack was in January 2016, when jihadists raided the Splendid Hotel and a cafe in the capital Ouagadougou, killing 30 people, around half of them foreign nationals.

Company president and CEO Benoit Desmormeaux sympathised with the families and colleagues of the 37 people who were killed in the attack on the public road about 40 km from the mine site.

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The ambush underscores the deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso, which observers say has increasingly become a refuge for jihadis from neighboring Mali and Niger.

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

The deaths come as West African governments battle a widening insurgency by Islamist militants and at a time when gold producers and prospectors are pouring money into the region as prices rally.

"We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers", Semafo said in a statement, offering condolences to the families of the victims.

Increased bloodshed has forced hundreds-of-thousands of people to flee their homes, igniting a fast-growing humanitarian crisis.

Semafo was quick to release a statement saying that the mine "remains safe and our operations have not been affected", but the movement in SMF stock today clearly shows that investors are anxious about the future of operations in Burkina Faso.