CANADA, October 26 (Reuters) – The Canadian soldier who became a symbol of the Canadian Armed Forces after a roadside bomb killed four Canadians in Afghanistan will be returned to war-ravaged war-torn Mali to fight the Islamist militant group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Canadian soldier Robert Maitland, 36, who served in Kandahar, Afghanistan, died in February after his Humvee was blown up by an Al Qaeda bomb.

Maitland was captured and was among the first Canadian forces to enter Mali, where he was trained by Canadian commandos.

He had previously been killed in Afghanistan.

Canadian troops were part of a mission to train and assist Malian forces to fight a U.N.-backed government that was allied with the Algerian Islamic Jihad group.

Maitlands death was a blow to the reputation of Canadian troops in Mali, a war-weary country in the Sahel region of Africa.

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and other armed groups seized control of much of Mali’s northern region, and some Western countries say that has fuelled the conflict in the country.

The United Nations says at least 1,400 civilians have been killed and another 300,000 displaced.

Canadian officials have said that Maitlanders death could help the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was elected in November, to establish a new, civilian government in Mali.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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