Moktar Belmoktar Killed: Islamist leader Moktar Belmoktar, who claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant in January that left 37 workers dead, was reportedly killed.
The Chadian army on Saturday claimed that Islamist commander Moktar Belmoktar was killed in northern Mali. Belmoktar, along with several other militants, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and killing dozens of foreign workers an Algerian gas facility several weeks go.
“Chadian forces in Mali completely destroyed the main jihadist base in the Adrar de Ifhogas mountains… killing several terrorists including leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar,” said Chad’s armed forces in a statement, according to the BBC.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Zakaria Ngobongue read out a statement that a northern Mali jihadist base where Belmoktar was located was destroyed, The Associated Press reported. Weapons, equipment, and at least 60 vehicles were also seized.
Belmoktar, who has been called “Mr. Marlboro” for his penchant for cigarette-smuggling, was wanted for a series of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in recent years. A former al-Qaeda leader, he is closely aligned with the militants who took over northern Mali last year. During the Algerian hostage situation, at least 37 people were killed.
Belmoktar is said to have received training in Afghanistan before he returned to fight in an insurgence in Algeria during the 1990s.
His death comes just a day after reports emerged that high-level al-Qaeda commander, Abou Zeid, was killed. Zeid is believed to be the second-in-command for the militant group’s North Africa wing, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but his death has not yet been confirmed by the French military.
Andrew Lebovich, an analyst who follows AQIM, told Reuters: “Both men have extensive knowledge of northern Mali and parts of the broader Sahel and deep social and other connections in northern Mali, and the death of both in such a short amount of time will likely have an impact on militant operations.”
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