OTTAWA — Canadian peacekeepers in Mali were pressed into service after extremists with links to al-Qaida attacked a United Nations base on Sunday, killing 10 and injuring dozens more.
Military spokesman Capt. Christopher Daniel says five Canadian helicopters were scrambled after the attack, including two large Chinooks, which are configured as flying hospitals, and three smaller Griffon escorts.
The operation was by far the largest that the Canadians have performed since arriving in Mali last summer, on the deadliest day for UN peacekeepers anywhere in months.
The numbers underscore the seriousness of the assault as only one Chinook is required to be on round-the-clock standby.
Daniel says the Canadians evacuated injured peacekeepers and delivered water, food and ammunition to UN troops who remained at the base in Aguelhok.
An influx of Islamic jihadists like those who claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack has been blamed for stoking rivalries and divisions in Mali, which is also struggling with poverty and drought.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. It corrects the number and type of Canadian helicopters involved.