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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Burkina Faso mining convoy ambush survivor describes ordeal, say death toll over 100

Survivors of a deadly attack on a mining company convoy in Burkina Faso have spoken to Reuters news agency about the ordeal.

Five buses carrying staff of Canadian firm Semafo were ambushed on Wednesday about 40km (24 miles) from the eastern town of Boungou, reports say.

Authorities say at least 38 people were killed in the attack and more than 60 injured. Many families are still looking for missing relatives.

Survivor Abel Kabore said some of the attackers shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is great”) before opening fire on the buses after a security vehicle escorting the convoy hit a landmine.

He believes the number of deaths from the ambush far exceeds the official toll.

“The three buses which were shot… there were so many dead. It was over 100. We were on the ground. We saw everything,” he told Reuters from a hospital in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Another wounded survivor, Bakary Sanou, described the panic as people fled the buses and then desperately climbed back onboard in a bid to escape the gunmen in the bush.

“People were trying to go back into the buses. I tried to run away into the bush, and saw that they [the attackers] went back onto the buses, opened the doors and tried to kill everyone,” he said.

Jihadist attacks have increased in Burkina Faso since 2015.

The conflict spread across the border from neighbouring Mali, where Islamist militants took over the north of the country in 2012 before the army, backed by French troops, pushed them out. But the authorities have not established full control over the region.

Last month, 20 people were killed in an attack on a gold-mining site in the north of Burkina Faso.

Days later, thousands protested in the capital Ouagadougou to denounce violence in their country and the presence of foreign military forces in the region.

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