RCMP sent to Burkina Faso to help retrieve bodies of Canadians killed in attack
Police also assigned to 'help in whatever way they can' with investigation of café attack
RCMP officers have been dispatched to Burkina Faso to help repatriate Canadians killed in last weekend's attack on a hotel and café popular with foreigners.
A senior Canadian government official told CBC News the officers are also in Ouagadougou to "help in whatever way they can with the ongoing investigation into this terrible tragedy."
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One of the poorest countries in the region, Burkina Faso is struggling to recover from the shock of the attack and what it might mean for the substantial assistance it receives from abroad, including from Canada, a major foreign aid donor.
Six Canadians were killed in the attack: aid worker Yves Carrier, his wife Gladys Chamberland, children Maude and Charles-Élie, and family friends Louis Chabot and Suzanne Bernier—all from Quebec.
They had been here on a humanitarian mission and were out for a final meal before leaving.
The Department of Global Affairs is in discussions with their families to "determine their wishes at this difficult time." Minister Stephan Dion said yesterday the department would work to repatriate the victims' remains as soon as possible.
Burkinabe authorities could opt to delay the return of bodies, as they may continue to be important to the investigation.
Sister Ines Kolesnoré of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception knew the Canadian family through their humanitarian work.
"I liked them very much, it's really heartbreaking," she told Radio-Canada at the scene on Monday.
"When I think of these Canadians, they're so happy. They were here for the love of their neighbour, she says, for us. And it ends in this hate."
Investigators—both local and international—were on the scene again today sifting through the charred remains of the Splendid Hotel and Café Cappuccino, where 29 people were killed. An al-Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for the attack.
'Like a movie'
Dozens of residents, workers, and the hawkers of trinkets who made a living nearby, watched the investigators from a distance, kept back by metal barriers and armed soldiers.
Aicha Da'allo, an employee at a pharmacy within view of the hotel and cafe, said it was an all-out battle, once police forces moved in.
"I saw people running from gunshots and we came in. The terrorists came right up here so we closed the door."
She added: "It was like a movie. We saw people dead. We felt awful. We saw injured people who couldn't even walk."
Cleanup crews in orange vests arrived today to start clearing the debris and burnt out cars. But on the last day of official mourning, roads around the scene remained closed, cutting off a major route to the airport.