Burkina Faso: Body of Canadian found days after abduction

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — A Canadian national has been found dead a day after reports that he had been kidnapped by suspected jihadists in Burkina Faso’s volatile north near the Niger border, the West African nation’s security ministry said Thursday.

The ministry said Kirk Woodman’s body was found 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the site where he worked for Progress Mineral Mining Company in Oudalan province.

Woodman’s son, Matt Woodman, emailed The Associated Press confirming his father’s death.

“He’s dead,” he said in the email. “Kirk was a loving and hardworking husband, father, son and brother. Not a day will go by that he won’t be missed. Our family would like to thank everyone for the love and support we’ve received, but we ask for privacy while we grieve during this difficult time.”

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Woodman was kidnapped by suspected extremists Tuesday night during a raid on a mining site in Tiabongou about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Mansila in Yagha province.

The prefect of the rural commune of Sebba in that province, Felix Ouedraogo, says the body of a white man riddled with bullets was transferred to a hospital in Dori by defense and security services.

Burkina Faso recently declared a state of emergency in the region as attacks by Islamic extremists increase.

“This is a terrible crime and Canada is absolutely committed to working with the authorities in Burkina Faso to bring those responsible to justice,” said Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. “Our first thought is with his family and friends who received really dreadful news.”

She said Canada is appalled and deeply saddened by Woodman’s death, condemning those responsible for the crime.

In an earlier statement she said “The government’s priority is the safety and security of Canadians.

West Africa’s Sahel region has seen a number of abductions of foreigners in recent years by extremists linked to al-Qaida or the Islamic State organization.

Woodman is the second Canadian to go missing in Burkina Faso in recent weeks, according to Burkina Faso Security Minister Clement Sawadogo.

Quebec resident Edith Blais, 34, and her Italian friend Luca Tacchetto were travelling by car in southwestern Burkina Faso when all communication with their families abruptly ended Dec. 15.

Sawadogo referred to the disappearance of Blais and Tacchetto as a kidnapping.

Burkina Faso’s security situation worsened last year with an attack on the army headquarters and the French Embassy in March. The extremist threat also shifted from the country’s northern Sahel region, home to radicalized local preacher Ibrahim Malam Dicko, into the forested east near the border with Niger.

Burkina Faso is part of a five-nation regional counterterror force, the G5 Sahel, that launched in 2017.

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Gillies reported from Toronto.

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