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French forces kill leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

French Forces Kill The Leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

PARIS – French forces have killed Al-Qaeda leader in the Islamic Maghreb, Algerian Abdelmalek Droukdel in northern Mali, Franch defense minister, Florence Parly, said.
Droukdel was killed Thursday near the Algerian border, where the group has bases from which it has carried out attacks and kidnappings of Westerners in the sub-Saharan Sahel area, Franch defense minister said on Friday.
“Many close associates” of Droukdel, who commanded various affiliated jihadist groups throughout the region without law, were also “neutralized,” he added.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) grew out of a group started in the late 1990s by radical Algerian Islamists, who in 2007 pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.
The group claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on troops and civilians across the Sahel, including a 2016 attack on a luxury hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso, which killed 30 people, mainly Westerners.
France has deployed more than 5,000 soldiers to fight jihadist groups in the region, a largely illegal extension that spans Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, where drugs and weapons flow across porous borders.
Northern Mali is the site of frequent clashes between rival armed groups, as well as a haven for jihadist activity.
According to the UN, Droukdel was an expert in explosives and manufactured devices that killed hundreds of civilians in attacks on public places.
He was sentenced to death in Algeria in 2013 for his involvement in the bombing of a government building and offices of the UN Refugee Committee in Algiers that killed 26 people and wounded 177.
France also claimed on Friday to have captured an ISIS leader in the Great Sahara group (EIGS), which carries out frequent attacks on Niger’s western borders.
“On May 19, French forces captured Mohamed el Mrabat, a veteran jihadist in the Sahel region and an important cadre in EIGS,” Parly said on Twitter.
Operations against EIGS “the other major terrorist threat in the region” continue, Parly said.
Mali is fighting to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in 2012 and has since claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.
Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed the center of the country and has spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
A source told AFP that some 500 jihadist fighters have been killed or captured by French troops in the region in recent months, including several leading figures, including commanders and recruiters.
Droukdel’s death is a symbolic blow to the French, a military source said.
It had remained a threat in the region, capable of financing jihadist movements, despite the fact that its leadership had been contested, the source added.
His death, and that of other al-Qaeda figures, could leave the group disorganized in the Sahel.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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