French forces in Mali have killed the No. 2 in command of the militant group, led by Islamist chief Mokhtar Belmokhtar (pictured), that claimed a January attack on an Algerian gas plant and the bombing of an Areva mine in Niger in May.
French special forces have killed the deputy of Algerian Islamist chief Mokhtar Belmokhtar in an operation in Mali’s northern Tessalit region, security sources said Thursday.
Hacene Ould Khalill, a Mauritanian national known by the nickname Jouleibib, was the deputy commander of the Those Who Sign in Blood Brigade, formed when Belmokhtar broke off from al Qaeda’s North African wing, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM.
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At least three rockets launched by Islamist militants on Thursday hit Gao, the largest town in the region, military sources said.
France launched a military intervention to oust the rebels in January. But persistent instability in the north has raised concern over French plans to slash the number of troops it has in Mali to 1,000 by February, leaving responsibility for security to Malian forces and UN peacekeepers.
Date created : 2013-11-21