A member of the Canadian Force Protection team participates in a combat casualty exercise in Mali on December 17, 2018. (Cpl. Ken Beliwicz/CAF)

Canadian peacekeepers called in following deadly attack in Mali

Canadian peacekeepers in Mali scrambled five of their helicopters to airlift injured Chadian soldiers following Sunday’s deadly terrorist attack against a UN camp in the north of the country, Canadian officials revealed Tuesday.

The early morning attack on the United Nation’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) camp in Aguelhok, in the Kidal region, also injured 25 Chadian peacekeepers.

“Helicopters and crews from Canada responded immediately with aviation support to UN forces in Aguelhok following a complex attack on Jan. 20, 2019,” said in an email Capt. Christopher Daniel, spokesperson for Canadian Joint Operation Command.

“Three CH-146 Griffon and two CH-147F Chinook helicopters were launched from Gao to Aguelhok where they evacuated 15 wounded UN soldiers. “

The helicopters also delivered water, food and ammunition to peacekeepers who remained in Aguelhok, about 450 kilometres north of Gao, where the Canadian contingent is based, he said.

Members of Canadian and German Forces participate in a combat casualty exercise in Mali during Operation PRESENCE-Mali on December 17, 2018. (Cpl. Ken Beliwicz/CAF)

MINUSMA forces responded robustly and a number of assailants were killed, said a statement by the spokesperson for the UN secretary general.

Al-Qaeda’s Malian branch, Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’ (JNIM), has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

Canadian troops were not engaged in combat, Daniel said.

“Our deployed contingent professionally worked through an extremely complex and demanding day, supporting one another and those who were the target of this horrible act of violence,” he said.

“The mission was conducted professionally and that Task Force Mali members completed the task safely, without incident.”

Canada has deployed about 250 soldiers and eight helicopters to provide MINUSMA with a 24/7 aeromedical evacuation capability, as well as tactical airlift.

The Canadian task force includes three medium lift CH-147F Chinook helicopters and five CH-146 Griffon helicopters. The Griffons, armed with side-mounted machine guns, provide security to the Chinooks that are equipped to care for up to two critically injured patients as well as several walking wounded.

To date, Task Force Mali has conducted six medical evacuation missions and has flown more than 2,100 hours in support of MINUSMA, Daniel said.

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