OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) -Attackers raided the Karma industrial gold mine in northern Burkina Faso in the early hours of Thursday morning, killing one soldier and one mine employee, the company said.
The mine has suspended operations to focus on securing the site, Nere Mining Group, the Burkina Faso-based consortium that owns it, added.
Three or four soldiers were also wounded in the assault, which took place at around 4:30 a.m. (0430 GMT), an official who answered the phone at Nere Mining told Reuters. The call was cut off before he could give his name.
The company said the assailants were not identified, and that the attack was eventually repelled by mine security workers and soldiers. It is still evaluating the impact, it said.
Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have been waging an insurgency in northern Burkina Faso for nearly a decade and routinely carry out attacks.
Several of those have targeted convoys on their way to and from the region’s gold mines. An ambush on buses carrying employees of Canadian firm Semafo in 2019 was the deadliest, killing 39 people.
Attacks on the mines themselves, however, have been much rarer.
A diplomatic source said three people had been killed at the mine and 10 others injured, eight of them seriously. A Burkinabe security source said about 200 unknown attackers had arrived just before dawn.
Video shared by one of the sources showed several burnt-out vehicles inside the mine complex. Reuters could not confirm the authenticity of the video.
The president of Burkina Faso’s mines chamber said in April that extra measures would be taken to protect gold projects in the north after Russia’s Nordgold shut down its mine there, citing deteriorating security.
Nere Mining purchased Endeavour Mining’s 90% stake in the Karma mine in March for $25 million. It produced about 88,000 ounces of gold in 2021.
(Reporting by Thiam Ndiaga, Aaron Ross and David Lewis; Writing by Estelle Shirbon and Nellie Peyton; Editing by Andrew Heavens)