Sunday, December 21, 2014


News

Chad Kills Top Al-Qaeda Commander

A video grab shows Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
A video grab shows Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
By RFE/RL
The army in Chad has announced that it has killed a top Al-Qaeda leader.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for the  bloody attack on a gas plant in Algeria in January.

More than 60 people were killed in a four-day standoff, including many foreign workers at the plant.

The Chadian Army said Belmokhtar was killed on March 2 in northern Mali.

The army said Chadian forces had attacked a "terrorist base," killing several alleged terrorists, among them Belmokhtar.

Belmokhtar, 40, is the head of the Al-Mulathamin Brigade, which allegedly has ties to the group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

He claims he trained in Afghanistan in the 1990s, including in one of Osama bin Laden's camps. It was there that he reportedly lost an eye, earning him the nickname "Laaouar," Arabic for "one-eyed."

On March 1, Chadian officials claimed to have killed militant Abou Zaid in another raid. French military officials have yet to confirm the deaths of either man.

There have been several previous reports of Belmokhtar's death in recent years, only of him to appear alive.

Chad is one of several African nations to have contributed forces to a French-led military intervention in Mali aimed at ridding its vast northern desert of Islamist rebels who seized it nearly a year ago following a coup in the capital.

Western and regional nations are worried that Al-Qaeda will seek to use the zone as a launchpad for international attacks and strengthen ties with homegrown African Islamist groups like Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

In a speech on March 1, French President Francois Hollande said the operation in Mali was in its final stage.

Washington has said it believes Islamists operating in Mali were involved in the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi in September.

With reporting by AP and Reuters