A senior commander for al-Qaida’s wing in North Africa has been killed, Chad’s military reported on Chadian state television Saturday. NPR could not independently verify the report.
The military said troops attacked an Islamist rebel base in the mountains of northern Mali, killing several militants, including Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
Chadian troops are part of the international force being led by France to quash Islamist militants in Mali. The French military told The Associated Press it could not confirm Belmokhtar’s death.
Belmokhtar is believed to have been behind the attack on an Algerian gas plant in January. Militants attacked the BP-operated facility in the Sahara, seizing dozens of hostages, allegedly in retaliation for the French ground offensive in neighboring Mali. At least 80 people, many of them hostages, were killed during a four-day standoff with the Algerian army.
NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reported that Belmokhtar took responsibility for the attack in a video released after the siege began.
The report of his killing comes a day after a spokesman for the Chadian president announced another al-Qaida commander had been killed in Mali. The AP reported the French military also could not confirm Abou Zeid’s death.