“Canada is appalled and deeply saddened that Kirk Woodman, who was abducted on January 15, 2019, has been killed in Burkina Faso,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday.
“Canada condemns those responsible for this terrible crime. We are working with the government of Burkina Faso and other international partners to pursue those responsible and bring them to justice.”
Woodman, who worked as a geologist for Vancouver-based Progress Mineral Mining Company, was abducted by a dozen gunmen on a mining site in the northeast near the border with Niger, an area that the government says is under growing threat from armed groups.
A security official in Burkina Faso had earlier said that the body of a “white man with gunshot wounds” was found late on Wednesday.
— CTV News (@CTVNews) January 17, 2019
The death will raise concerns that the influence of violent groups with links to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL also known as ISIS) group has spread uncontested into Burkina Faso from neighbouring Mali and Niger.
Attacks by armed groups have surged in the West African country in recent months. A state of emergency in several northern provinces has been in effect since December 31.
Last month, 34-year-old Canadian aid worker Edith Blais was also reported missing with an Italian friend, Lucas Tacchetto, 30, as they were travelling between the western town of Bobo-Dioulasso and Burkino Faso’s capital Ouagadougou.
There has been no word since then on their fate.
Burkina Faso lies in the heart of the vast Sahel region, which is struggling with a bloody rebellion.
Security has deteriorated over the past few years across the remote and arid Sahel region just south of the Sahara Desert.
In response, the United States, France and other European powers have sent troops and equipment to help stamp out the threat.
Armed groups are believed to have been responsible for more than 270 deaths in Burkina Faso since 2015. Ouagadougou has been attacked three times and almost 60 people have died there.
Eight foreigners have been abducted in the past four years, according to an AFP tally.