Abou Zeid killed: The death of al-Qaeda commander Abou Zeid was not yet confirmed on Friday, following reports that he died in northern Mali.
A top commander of Al-Qaeda’s northern Africa wing, Abou Zeid, was killed by French soldiers in Mali earlier this week, it was reported. But his death has not yet been confirmed.
French authorities would not comment to Reuters about whether he was killed or not. Algeria, Malian, and Chadian officials could not confirm if he died.
And French President Francois Hollande said, “Reports are circulating, it is not up to me to confirm them,” AFP reported.
Algeria’s El Khabar newspaper said officials are trying to confirm if the DNA belonged to Zeid, according to the news agency. “The security services are comparing DNA taken from two close relatives of Abou Zeid with samples taken from the remains of a body supplied by French forces,” publication said.
French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem also said that “we should be extremely cautious with information such as this one. For the moment it is not confirmed.”
Zeid was one of around three dozen other militants killed by French forces in mountainous northern Mali, located near the border with Algeria, reported Reuters, citing the Algerian Ennahar broadcaster. The operation is part of a strategy hatched by France to drive Islamist militants—who took over much of Mali’s northern portion last year—out of the country.
Zeid, described as a “tiny, rickety man in his ‘50s with a goatee,” was said to be brutal, volatile, and zealous in his approach, reported broadcaster France24. He heads one of the most radical wings of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, a group responsible for a number of kidnappings and assaults in recent years.
His wing, the “Tareq Ibn Ziayd” or “El Fatihine,” is believed to be responsible for the kidnapping and killing of Briton Edwin Dyer four years ago, as well as the killing of French aid worker Michel Germaneau a year later.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.