OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — A Romanian security officer working at a mine in northeast Burkina Faso was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen on Saturday, a senior military official said.
Five assailants attacked a convoy transporting the Romanian while it was out on patrol near the manganese mine run by Pan African Minerals in the town of Tambao, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media. He said the Romanian also has French citizenship, though this could not be immediately confirmed.
A gendarmerie officer and a driver were wounded in the attack, the official said.
The mining site is located near the borders with Mali and Niger, and it was not immediately clear where the assailants came from.
"We have a bit of information and we are already on the ground. We are coordinating with Niger and Mali," the official said.
Romania's foreign ministry said it has set up a crisis cell to deal with the kidnapping. The team has met "to analyze all available in formation and adopt specific measures" the ministry said.
Northern Mali, the area bordering northeast Burkina Faso, fell to separatist rebels and then al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists in 2012. A French-led military intervention in 2013 scattered the extremists but did not drive them out entirely, and separatists are also still present in the region, which remains insecure despite the presence of U.N. peacekeepers.
Prior to the military intervention, the Islamic militants carried out a number of kidnappings targeting foreigners. Burkina Faso beefed up security at its border with Mali at the time and no such kidnappings were reported on its soil.