Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Refugee drama: 'A truck full of corpses'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Two French journalists arrested for 'attempted blackmail of Moroccan king'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

From Sarkozy to Kim Kardashian: Staged celebrity photos

Read more

THE DEBATE

The 'You Stink' movement: Lebanon garbage crisis sparks new wave of protests (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

The 'You Stink' movement: Lebanon garbage crisis sparks new wave of protests (part 1)

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Nigeria marks 500 days since kidnap of Chibok schoolgirls

Read more

ENCORE!

French director Audiard on his Cannes winner, 'Dheepan'

Read more

FOCUS

Scandals tarnish reputation of India's pharmaceutical industry

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Ten years after Katrina, New Orleans is bustling

Read more

Africa

AQIM confirms Zeid died in Mali battle

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-06-16

A key member of the North African section of al Qaeda died fighting in Mali, the militant group said on Sunday. The confirmation of Algerian-born Abou Zeid’s death corroborates a French announcement three months ago.

Al-Qaeda's north African branch confirmed that one of its top leaders, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, was killed in fighting in Mali, three months after France announced his death, according to a statement published Sunday.

Algerian-born Abou Zeid, considered one of the most radical leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was killed "on the battlefield defending Umma (the Muslim community) and sharia law," according to a statement carried by the private Mauritanian news agency ANI. It gave no date for his death.

Paris had announced in March that Abou Zeid was killed in fighting with its forces after France led an offensive to rout Al-Qaeda linked Islamist groups from northern Mali.

Both France and Chad, whose troops were also involved in the offensive, said the 46-year-old militant was killed at the end of February.

"It is the first time that an AQIM statement has officially referred to the death of Abou Zeid," said ANI director Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Abou Al-Maali, a specialist on the Islamist group.

In March however, Algerian television said that Al-Qaeda had named a replacement for Abou Zeid, Algerian national Djamel Okacha.

Abou Zeid had a reputation as a severe, aloof character with an unflinching capacity for violence when required.

Born in Debdeb in Algeria, close to the border with Libya, Abou Zeid was a young activist in the FIS Islamist movement that won the country's first democratic elections in 1991 but was denied power. He then disappeared underground for most of the 1990s.

He re-emerged spectacularly in 2003 as second in command of the GSPC group which kidnapped dozens of foreigners in southern Algeria, and that would later, along with several other organisations, evolve into AQIM.

Latterly, Abou Zeid -- whose real name was Mohamed Ghdir according to Algerian court documents -- was considered a deputy to AQIM's "Saharan emir" Yahia Djouadi and commanded a katiba, or battalion, of fighters from Mauritania, Algeria and Mali known as Tareq ibn Ziyad, named after an eighth-century Muslim military commander.

Mali descended into chaos in the wake of a March 2012 coup as Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels capitalised on the power vacuum to seize a Texas-sized triangle of desert territory in the north.

France launched its offensive in its former colony on January 11 to stop the Islamists from advancing on the capital Bamako.

(AFP)

Date created : 2013-06-16

  • FRANCE

    France’s most-wanted jihadist flies home

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French jihadist arrested in northern Mali

    Read more

  • MALI

    Fighting continues for third day in Timbuktu

    Read more

COMMENT(S)