The six Canadians killed in a deadly assault on Friday in the capital of Burkina Faso were on a humanitarian mission that was coming to a close for a family of four.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the attack, carried out by militants who stormed the Splendid Hotel and nearby Cappuccino Café in the capital of Ouagadougou, torching cars and taking hostages. Officials said 28 people from a number of countries were killed, and 50 others wounded. Four assailants were reportedly killed during the 12-hour siege.
Various media outlets identified the Canadian victims as Yves Carrier, his daughter Maude, his wife Gladys Chamberland, and their son Charlélie, along with their friends Louis Chabot and Suzanne Bernier. All were from Quebec. The Carriers left their city of Lac-Beauport in December and headed to Africa, where they would do aid work in a remote Burkinabe village on behalf of the Congregation des soeurs de Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours, a religious organization that helps the poor.
Global News reported that they were celebrating the culmination of three weeks of work at a cafe at a luxury hotel, where they were killed.
"It's not acceptable — it's unbearable," Louise Brunet, the mayor of Lac-Beauport, told CBC News.
"We don't know what they were doing" in that restaurant, Camille Carrier, Maude's mother, told the Toronto Star. "They're not the kind of places they usually went to. We think they went there to eat or grab a drink to celebrate the end of their trip."
"It's so stupid. They went there to do good and just as they were going to come back, they get killed."
On Sunday, as he toured a mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, that had been torched in the wake of the Paris attacks, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his solidarity with the victims.
"Yesterday we got some terrible news from Africa. Six of our fellow citizens were murdered in a brutal act of violent terrorism in Burkina Faso," he said, before leading a moment of silence among those gathered.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and Minister of International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau also extended their condolences, confirming that the Canadian victims were aid workers and volunteers.
"Canada condemns in the strongest terms any act that threatens the safety of civilians, including those who strive to improve the lives of vulnerable people around the world," the ministers said in a statement. "We stand with Burkina Faso and its people at this difficult time. This attack is yet again another reminder of the danger terrorism poses around the world and the need to work with partners to deal with global threats."
Reuters reported that the deceased came from at least seven countries, although earlier reports indicated 18 different nationalities were among the dead. The victims included eight Burkinabes, three Ukrainians, two Portuguese, two French, two Swiss and one Dutch citizen, according to provisional figures from the Burkinabe government cited by Reuters. Seven bodies had yet to be identified, Reuters said.
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