Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Muhammadu Buhari sworn in as President

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

South african government denies FIFA was paid world cup bribe

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sepp Blatter strikes back

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Pantheon: Acknowledging France's great men and women

Read more

#TECH 24

One heart, one tree: An app that bridges tech and the environment

Read more

FOCUS

Immigration, an American paradox

Read more

REPORTERS

Video - Abu Azrael: ‘Iraq’s Rambo’

Read more

#THE 51%

Brave women of history: French Resistance Heroines inducted into Pantheon

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)