Two dead in protest over arrested Burkina gold miners
Two people died and another was injured in clashes between security forces and protesting gold miners in western Burkina Faso, the government’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
Lionel Bilgo said the incident broke out in Hounde on Tuesday when security forces tried to “limit or prevent” a demonstration demanding the liberation of 12 miners arrested after a gold mine was ransacked last week.
“Unfortunately, we count two victims: one during a crush and another from bullet shots,” Bilgo said, adding that another person was injured with a bullet wound.
An investigation was underway to “determine the origin of these bullets and attribute responsibility”, he said.
The ransacking of the Hounde gold mine on May 17 by protesters opposed to the expulsion of local miners injured seven people and caused massive damage to equipment and vehicles.
Bilgo called for calm and said a taskforce had been set up to “find a solution”.
Incidents are frequent at Burkina Faso’s gold mining sites, where local communities feel they receive little benefit.
Gold has overtaken cotton to become the poor West African country’s main export, with 17 industrial mines producing around 70 tonnes per year.
Informal mining employs around 1.5 million people and generates a further 10 tonnes of gold every year, according to the mining ministry.
In April, Russian gold company Nordgold said it had halted activity at its main private mine in northern Burkina Faso for “security reasons”.
The region has been plagued by a jihadist insurgency led by rebels affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, killing thousands and displacing almost two million since 2015.
© Agence France-Presse