A Canadian geologist was found dead after he was abducted by a dozen gunmen at a mining site in Burkina Faso, officials said Thursday, making him the second Canadian to have been kidnapped in recent weeks in the African country.
Kirk Woodman was kidnapped Tuesday while at a mining site owned by Progress Minerals, a Vancouver-based company, near the land-locked country's border with Niger, CBC reported. Few details have been released about Woodman's abduction, although the area has reportedly seen an increase in armed jihadists, prompting government officials to recently declared a state of emergency in several provinces.
“Canada is appalled and deeply saddened that Kirk Woodman, who was abducted on January 15, 2019, has been killed in Burkina Faso,” Global Affairs Canada, the country's diplomatic arm, said in a statement. “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. The government’s priority is the safety and security of Canadians.”
Woodman died of gunshot wounds and his body was located Wednesday night about 62 miles from the mining site, Burkina Faso Security Ministry spokesperson said.
Alpha Barry, Burkina Faso's minister of foreign affairs and co-operation, condemned the killing and called it a “cowardly assassination.”
"The government of Burkina condemns with the utmost energy this cowardly assassination and reassures that an investigation is opened and all the measures will be taken to find and punish the guilty," Barry wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.
Woodman’s son, CTV reporter Matt Woodman, told CBC he was informed about his father’s death Thursday morning.
"Kirk was a loving and hard-working husband, father, son and brother. Not a day will go by that he won't be missed," he said in a statement. "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."
Kirk Woodman, who has been working in the mining industry for more than 30 years, joined Progress Minerals 18 months ago, his LinkedIn page stated. He was based in Nova Scotia and had previous experience working in Africa.
Friend and veteran exploration geologist, David Duncan, described Woodman as talented, but said their jobs have become increasingly dangerous due to the rise of militants.
"It's a terrible thing, a terrible thing. We understood since the Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler was kidnapped in Niger that part of the world had changed ... with the introduction of Islamic fundamentalists into that part of the world," he said. "It's gotten to be a much harder place... We were never worried about being kidnapped. Today, it's a different world."
Woodman is the second Canadian to go missing in Burkina Faso in recent weeks.
Edith Blais, 34, and Italian national Luca Tacchetto, 30, were reported missing last month, the BBC reported. The aid workers were expected to travel to Togo for a humanitarian aid mission but vanished prior to the trip.
Canadian officials said they suspect the pair was kidnapped.