French army kills al-Qaeda North Africa chief Droukdel

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The flag of Mali pinned on the map. Horizontal orientation. Macro photography.

The French government has said its military forces had killed al Qaeda’s North Africa (AQMI) chief Abdelmalek Droukdel during an operation in northern Mali, a key Islamist fighter that its forces had been hunting for more than seven years.

In this photo taken from video is Abdelmalek Droukdel. The French military and allied forces in Mali killed the longtime leader of al-Qaida’s North African arm, who commanded jihadists in his native Algeria and then spread their movement across Africa’s Sahel region, France’s defense minister said Friday, June 5, 2020. Abdelmalek Droukdel, known as the emir of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, was killed in an operation Wednesday, June 3, in northern Mali along with several people in his entourage, Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted. (Militant video via AP)

“On June 3, French army forces with the support of their local partners, killed al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s emir, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his closest collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter.

Droukdel was among North Africa’s most experienced militants and was one of those who took part in the Islamist militant takeover of northern Mali before a French military intervention in 2013 drove them back and scattered fighters across the Sahel region.

Droukdel was believed to be hiding in the mountains of northern Algeria. The group operates across northern Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Algeria.

Parly said that French forces, which number about 5,200 in the region, had also on May 19 captured Mohamed el Mrabat, a fighter she identified as a veteran militant in the region and member of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

“Our forces, in cooperation with their local partners … will continue to track these (people) down without respite,” Parly said.

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