Gunmen stole valuables, money during Canadian's kidnapping: Burkina official
Still unclear what took place in the hours before Kirk Woodman's body was found
Details are emerging about the kidnapping and killing of a Canadian mining company executive in Burkina Faso last week, as authorities continue their investigation.
Jean Paul Badoum, an official with the West African country's Ministry of Security, said Tuesday the gunmen who kidnapped Kirk Woodman of Halifax also appear to have stolen a number of items, including money, cellphones and computers.
The theft suggests the kidnapping may have been carried out by a gang of armed bandits, he said.
"Security forces are continuing to investigate and are not ruling anything out," Badoum said, adding they are exploring the possibility extremists or other groups were involved.
"But the way they acted gives the impression they may have been bandits, as terrorists are generally not interested in things like that [the stolen items]."
Still, he said there are extremists, bandits and drug traffickers active in the region, so it's often hard to say who's to blame in these cases — or whether it was different groups working together.
With no witnesses and no one claiming responsibility, Badoum said it remains unclear what took place in the hours before Woodman's body was found riddled with bullets.
He added that security forces are putting their maximum effort into identifying those responsible to bring them to justice.
Woodman, who worked for Vancouver-based Progress Minerals Inc., was found dead last Wednesday in Oudalan province, in the northern Sahel region.
He had been kidnapped the night before by armed gunmen from a mining camp in Tiabongou, some distance away.
Burkina Faso recently declared a state of emergency in the region as attacks by Islamic extremists increase, especially along the border with Niger and Mali.
Woodman's family said in a statement last week that "Kirk was a loving and hardworking husband, father, son and brother."
"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."
His son, Matt Woodman, expressed his gratitude on Saturday to everyone who has reached out to the family since the killing.
"This week has been very difficult for my family, but all the support really does help," Woodman, an anchor and reporter for CTV Edmonton, said on Twitter. "Thank you all so much."