Edith Blais of Quebec and her travel companion, Luca Taccheto of Italy, went missing in December while travelling in Burkina Faso. (The Canadian Press)

Edith Blais of Quebec and her travel companion, Luca Taccheto of Italy, went missing in December while travelling in Burkina Faso. (The Canadian Press)

Burkina Faso minister says missing Quebec woman is alive, removed from territory

Burkina Faso’s security minister referred to the pair’s disappearance as a kidnapping in January

A Canadian woman and her Italian companion who have been missing in West Africa since last December are alive but no longer in the country, a senior minister with Burkina Faso’s government says.

Communications Minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou told Italian public broadcaster Rai that Edith Blais of Sherbrooke, Que., and her travel companion, Luca Tacchetto of Italy, are not in danger.

In an interview broadcast on Friday, Dandjinou said he was hopeful the pair can be located and brought home safe and sound.

Blais, 34, and Tacchetto, 30, were travelling by car in southwestern Burkina Faso and heading to Togo to do volunteer work with an aid group when they vanished around Dec. 15, 2018.

Dandjinou’s comments this week backed up a recent report by Human Rights Watch that indicated the pair had been abducted and taken to Mali.

READ MORE: Missing Canadian Edith Blais was kidnapped, taken to Mali: Human Rights Watch

That report, published March 22 on the advocacy group’s website, did not mention the fate of the two travellers.

“While no armed Islamist group has taken responsibility for their abduction, they are believed to have been kidnapped and later taken to Mali,” said the report, titled “Abuses by Armed Islamist Groups in Burkina Faso’s Sahel Region,” citing an interview with Malian security sources on Jan. 13.

In a January statement, Burkina Faso’s security minister referred to the pair’s disappearance as a kidnapping, but the Canadian government has not confirmed that, only saying officials haven’t ruled out any possibilities.

Senior Liberal cabinet ministers met with Blais’ family in Quebec’s Eastern Townships region in January and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time he believed Blais was still alive.

Earlier this year, another Canadian, Kirk Woodman, was found dead in northern Burkina Faso, close to the border with Mali and Niger. An executive with a Vancouver-based mining company, Woodman had been kidnapped a day earlier by gunmen as he worked on a gold mining project.

Blais and Tacchetto set off in his car on Nov. 20 from the northern Italian town of Vigonza, outside Padua. They travelled through France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Mali before arriving in Burkina Faso. They were last seen in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso in the country’s southwest.

Global Affairs Canada wouldn’t comment directly Saturday on Dandjinou’s comments.

A spokeswoman issued a short statement saying the department was aware of a Canadian missing in Burkina Faso and that officials were in contact with family and providing assistance.

Brittany Fletcher said in an email that Canadian officials in Burkina Faso are also in contact with local authorities.

“The Government of Canada’s first priority is always the safety and security of its citizens. For this reason, we will not comment on or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of Canadians,” she wrote.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
UPDATE: West Kelowna fire crews rescue injured mountain biker

The injury took place at the top of Smith Creek Road

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Kierra Smith (Contributed)
Kelowna swimmer headed to Toronto hoping to qualify for Olympics

If she qualifies, it will be Kierra Smith’s second time swimming at the Olympics

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Most Read