By Thiam Ndiaga
OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – A Canadian national was kidnapped in northern Burkina Faso on Tuesday night in an area the government has warned is under growing threat from jihadist attacks, Security Minister Clement Sawadogo said on Wednesday.
Sawadogo said the man was abducted around 1945 GMT by a dozen gunmen on a mining site owned by Vancouver-based Progress Minerals near the border with Niger. Progress Minerals chief executive Adam Spencer declined to comment.
In addition, a Canadian man and an Italian woman went missing earlier this month, Sawadogo said.
“We have alerted our entire security presence to find these people,” Sawadogo said.
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 Burkina as jihadists with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, 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.
(Additional reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Edward McAllister/Mark Heinrich)