Three police officers were killed in a northern region of Burkina Faso where they were hunting for a trio of kidnapped mineworkers, a security official told AFP on Monday.
"The bodies of three gendarmes were found this morning in Tongomael," the source said, speaking from the town of Djibo.
"They were part of a team that had been deployed in a search-and-sweep operation" following the kidnapping, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Their bodies were found at daybreak after a two-hour clash with an armed group late on Sunday.
A second source - a security official in the capital Ouagadougou - confirmed the account.
On Sunday, three miners - a Burkinabe national, an Indian and a South African - were seized by armed men between Djibo and the Inata gold mine, about 30km from Tongomael.
The abductors are "probably members of jihadist groups which are active in the region. They headed towards the Malian border and have no doubt already crossed it," another source in Ouagadougou said.
Northern Burkina Faso started experiencing cross-border jihadists attack in 2015.
Abductions include that of Australian Kenneth Elliott and his wife Jocelyn, humanitarian workers in their eighties, who were kidnapped in Djibo in 2015.
Jocelyn Elliott was released but her husband, who had been running a clinic for the poor for decades, is still being held.
On September 8, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said additional security measures would shortly be unveiled "to eradicate the curse of terrorism."
* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER