France says one of the key leaders of Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in northern Africa, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, has been killed in fighting with French-led forces in Mali.
The office of French President Francois Hollande confirmed "with certainty" that Abou Zeid was killed in northern Mali in late February.
Abou Zeid, 47, was considered one of the most radical leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Militants linked to him are believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least two European hostages.
Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants seized a vast area in northern Mali in the wake of a March 2012 coup.
France launched its military intervention in its former colony in mid-January to stop the Islamists from advancing on the capital, Bamako.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP