Canada extends Mali airlift

Canada will continue providing airlift support for French troops in Mali until at least mid-March, Canadian Defense Minister Peter Mackay announced Thursday.

Last month, Canada sent a C-17 military jumbo transport aircraft to support France in its operation against north African Islamist rebels, moving almost one million pounds (454 tonnes) of French military equipment to Bamako.

That effort was already approved up until Friday this week, and MacKay said it will now continue until March 15.

Mali imploded after a coup last year by soldiers who blamed the government for the army's humiliation at the hands of Tuareg rebels, who have long complained of being marginalized by Bamako.

With the capital in disarray, Al-Qaeda-linked fighters hijacked the Tuareg rebellion and took control of the country's north.

Though the French-led military intervention has helped push back the Islamist rebels, Mali's army is struggling to restore security.