A community is in mourning after a Canadian kidnapped in Burkina Faso was found dead two days after he was abducted.
Kirk Woodman, who was from Halifax, was abducted after nightfall Tuesday by a dozen gunmen on a mining site owned by Vancouver-based Progress Minerals near the border with Niger. It’s an area that the government says is under growing threat from armed jihadists.
“It’s the Canadian that was found last night in the province of Oudalan,” spokesman Jean Paul Badoumsaid said, adding Woodman’s body was found alone about 100 kilometres away from the site he worked at. His body was found with bullet wounds.
WATCH: A Canadian man kidnapped in Burkina Faso has been found dead. Kirk Woodman was an employee of a B.C.-based mining company. Neetu Garcha has the latest
“Kirk was a loving and hardworking husband, father, son and brother,” Woodman’s family said in a statement Thursday.
“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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Ron Mills, a friend of Woodman’s said it’s a “shock that something like this would ever happen to him.”
“He was a fabulous individual. A great guy. Type of guy who would never insult anybody. Such a sweet man,” he said.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage called Woodman’s death a “tragedy beyond words,”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter Thursday and said Canada condemns those responsible for the killing, calling it a “terrible crime.”
“Canada is appalled and deeply saddened that Kirk Woodman, who was abducted on Jan. 15, 2019, has been killed in Burkina Faso,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said.
She added that she is working with the government of Burkina Faso and other international partners to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Woodman’s family and loved ones. This is a devastating and extremely painful time for them and they have Canada’s full support. As they mourn this tragedy, we ask that their privacy be respected,” she said.
WATCH: Chrystia Freeland confirms Kirk Woodman, Canadian kidnapped in Burkina Faso, found dead
Badoum said Woodman was kidnapped by armed gunmen from a mining camp, but officials have not yet identified the kidnappers.
He said no group has taken responsibility for the kidnapping.
Woodman was vice-president of exploration for Vancouver-based Progress Minerals and had been with the company since June 2017, a company spokesperson said.
He had extensive experience working in West Africa prior to joining the company, the spokesperson added.
Acadia University professor Sandra Barr told the Canadian Press Wednesday that Woodman was quite well-known among geologists in Nova Scotia, where he was based, and had worked in Africa for decades.
“He was very passionate about the work that he was doing there,” she said.
2nd Canadian to be kidnapped
Earlier this month, another Canadian woman and an Italian man went missing in Burkina, the security minister said. There has been no word since then on their fate.
Woodman’s death will fan concerns that the influence of violent groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State has spread uncontested into Burkina from neighbouring Mali and Niger.
Attacks by Islamist militants have surged in the West African country in recent months. A state of emergency in several northern provinces has been in effect since Dec. 31.
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Security has deteriorated over the last few years across the remote and arid Sahel region just south of the Sahara Desert. In response, the United States, France and other European powers have sent troops and equipment to help stamp out the threat.
Tuesday’s kidnapping also occurred on the third anniversary of an attack at a hotel in the center of the capital, Ouagadougou, that killed dozens, shocking a country that until then had largely been spared the violence that plagued its neighbours.
That attack was claimed by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
— With files from Reuters and the Canadian Press