France said on Friday its military forces had killed al Qaeda’s North Africa chief Abdelmalek Droukdel, a key Islamist fighter that its forces had been hunting for more than seven years, during an operation in Mali.
“On June 3, French army forces, with the support of their local partners, killed the emir of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his closest collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter.
The announcement of the death of Droukdel comes almost six months after former colonial power France and regional states combined their military forces under one command structure to focus on fighting Islamic State-linked militants in the border regions of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.
Droukdel was among North Africa’s most experienced militants. He took part in an Islamist militant takeover of northern Mali before a French military intervention in 2013 drove them back and scattered fighters across the Sahel region…
Parly said that French forces, which number about 5,100 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…
Parly said earlier this week that about 100 special forces from other European countries would be deployed to the region to support French and regional troops.
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