PARIS—France said on Friday its military forces had killed al Qaeda’s North Africa (AQMI) chief Abdelmalek Droukdel during an operation in northern Mali, a key terrorist that its forces had been hunting for more than seven years.
“On June 3, French army forces with the support of their local partners, killed al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s emir, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his closest collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter.
Le 3 juin, les forces armées françaises, avec le soutien de leurs partenaires, ont neutralisé l’émir Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique (AQMI), Abdelmalek Droukdal et plusieurs de ses proches collaborateurs, lors d’une opération dans le nord du Mali.
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) June 5, 2020
Droukdel was among North Africa’s most experienced terrorists and was one of those who took part in the Islamist terrorist takeover of northern Mali before a French military intervention in 2013 drove them back and scattered fighters across the Sahel region.
Droukdel was believed to be hiding in the mountains of northern Algeria. The group operates across northern Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Algeria.
Parly said that French forces, which number about 5,200 in the region, had also on May 19 captured Mohamed el Mrabat, a terrorist she identified as a veteran militant in the region and member of ISIS terrorist group in the Greater Sahara.
“Our forces, in cooperation with their local partners … will continue to track these (people) down without respite,” Parly said.
By John Irish and Tangi Salaun