Great Britain

Abdelmalek Droukdel dead: Al-Qaeda's leader in North Africa killed by French forces, government says

Al-Qaeda‘s leader in northern Africa has been killed in a French military operation, France’s government has announced.

Florence Parly, the country’s defence minister, said Abdelmalek Droukdel and several of his allies were killed on Wednesday in northern Mali by French forces and their partners.

It was not clear how his identity was confirmed by the French, but it would be a major victory for the country after years of fighting jihadists in the Sahel.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

There was no immediate confirmation of his death from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as Aqim, which has made millions of dollars abducting foreigners for ransom over the years and made large swaths of West Africa too dangerous for aid groups to access.

Related anti-terrorist operations in the region also led to the arrest on 19 May of a major figure in the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, Mohamed el Mrabat, she said.

“I congratulate and thank all those who have enabled and carried out these daring operations, which severely strike these terrorist groups,” Ms Parly tweeted in French late on Friday. ”Our forces, in cooperation with their G5 Sahel partners, will continue to track them relentlessly.”

Droukdel’s reported death comes after French president Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of the G5 Sahel group – Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad – launched a new plan in January to fight jihadists in the area.

France deployed 600 additional soldiers to its Barkhane force, raising the number of troops there to 5,100.

In a March video released by the extremist monitoring group Site, Droukdel urged governments of the Sahel region to try to end the French military presence, calling the troops “armies of occupation”.

It was not clear how long Droukdel had been in Mali, Algeria’s southern neighbour. For years he was thought to be holed up in the Kabyle region east of the capital of his native Algeria, and many people had questioned why he was never captured by Algerian security forces, which had honed their counterterrorism skills over the decades.

He was widely seen as the symbolic leader of al-Qaeda’s North African branch, whose operational centre for attacks shifted to northern Mali over the past decade.

That led to the French military invasion of the region in 2013 seeking to counter Islamist extremist designs on southern Mali and the capital, Bamako.

Droukdel made his reputation as a feared extremist leader in Algeria, which beginning in the early 1990s was convulsed by violence in what the nation now calls the “black decade”.

Osama Bin Laden: A profile of the Al-Qaeda leader’s life

Droukdel’s al-Qaeda affiliate had claimed responsibility for numerous deadly suicide bombings in Algeria, including targeting a United Nations building in Algiers in 2007, shattered by a vehicle packed with explosives.

Droukdel, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, transformed the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known as the GSPC, into al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, spreading the movement across Africa’s Sahel region under the umbrella of the global terror network.

More recently he had been commanding all the al-Qaeda groups in North Africa and the Saheel, including Nusrat al-Islam, which has claimed responsibility for devastating attacks on the Malian military and UN peacekeepers trying to stabilise the volatile country. Ms Parly identified him as a member of al-Qaeda’s “management committee”.

Football news:

Ocampos did everything for the victory of Sevilla: first he scored, and then he put on a goalie's Jersey and in the 101st minute dragged the kick of the goalkeeper Eibar
Pizarro finished his career as a player. Werder's players cradled him in their arms after the match
Aitor Karanka: When Real Madrid wins, they always talk about the referees
Gendusa two weeks training with Arsenal according to the decision of Arteta. Londoners can sell it
Alexander Elagin: if you Want to live a man with a man, a woman with a woman-live! But don't involve children
Pizarro finished. He came to Werder 4 times and became a legend here
Lloris about the fight with Son: It's part of football. Sometimes this happens