A Canadian kidnapped in Burkina Faso has been found dead, says his family, two days after he was abducted.
Kirk Woodman, originally from Halifax, was abducted Tuesday night by a dozen gunmen at a mining site owned by Vancouver-based Progress Minerals near the border with Niger, in an area the government says is under growing threat from armed jihadists.
Woodman’s son Matt, a CTV reporter based in Edmonton, told CBC News the family found out Thursday morning about his dad’s death and is asking for privacy.
A spokesperson for the Burkina Faso Security Ministry told Radio-Canada that Woodman had been shot and his body was found Wednesday night, 100 kilometres from the site where he worked.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada is in touch with Woodman’s family.
“We’re working closely with the authorities in Burkina Faso,” she told reporters in Sherbrooke, Que., on Thursday. “This is a terrible, terrible crime and Canada is absolutely committed to working with the authorities in Burkina Faso to bring those responsible to justice.
“I think our first thought today is with his family, with his friends, who’ve received some really dreadful news today.”
According to his LinkedIn profile, Woodman had worked in the mining industry for more than 30 years and joined Progress Minerals 18 months ago. The mining company has operations in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, and Woodman had previous experience working in West Africa.
He’s the second Canadian to go missing in the country in recent weeks, Burkina Faso Security Minister Clément Sawadogo said.
Quebec resident Edith Blais, 34, and her Italian travel companion, Luca Tacchetto, 30, were last heard from in the western city of Bobo-Dioulasso on Dec. 15.
Attacks by Islamist militants have surged in the country in recent months, and Burkina Faso has declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces since Dec. 31.
Security has deteriorated in the country as jihadists with links to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, including many based in neighbouring Mali, seek to increase their influence across the poorly policed scrublands of the Sahel region just south of the Sahara Desert in West Africa.