It’s been reported by the RTnews that a senior commander from the north African wing of Al-Qaeda has been killed in Mali by the Chadian Army. The Al-Qaeda leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, according to report was the one who masterminded the raid that led to 37 dead hostages on the gas plant in southern Algeria.
It was on Saturday that Chad army reported to have killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar during an assault on an Islamist rebel base. On a statement made by the army it is said that the main jihadist base located in the Ifoghas mountains has been completely destroyed by the the Chadian forces in Mali. To that statement the army also included that there were several terrorists killed and the leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar was one of them.
About 1,000 soldiers from West Africa and Chad have been sent to Mali in January to assist the French army in driving away forces linked to Al-Qaeda out of the northern part of the country. Since March last year that part was seized following a coup.
The news of the killing of Belmokhtar comes in one day after the President of Chad announced the elimination of Abou Zeid, another senior regional commander of al-Qaeda. He was taken out by French and Chadian forces.
These killings have not yet been confirmed by the French officials. French president Francois Hollande, said on Friday that the terrorist groups in Mali have taken refuge in zones that are especially difficult but when it came to killing of the 2 leaders he prefered not to pronounced himself until the operations are over.
For now the death of any senior commander has not yet been confirmed by radical islamists sources, even though several diplomats and US officials refer to the earlier report concerning Abou Zeid death as “very credible”.
Matthieu Guidere, an Al-Qaeda specialist and university Professor told AFP that if the death reports are not confirmed by the jihadists then there is still a possibility that they are not true. Jihadists are not known to hide their dead and are usually quick to broadcast their martyrdom.
Thirty seven foreign hostages died following the hostage crisis that occurred at the Amenas gas plant in Algeria. There were also a dozen terrorists that were killed.
On 16 January 2013, a group linked to Al-Qaeda for which the leader was believed to be Mokhtar Belmokhtar, captured a total of 800 people but later on released the Algerians and kept the rest of the hostages, which were foreigners at the Tigantourine gas facility.
Responsibility for the hostage crisis has been claimed by the Islamist ‘Mulathameen Brigade’, explaining that the raid was taken in retaliation to the fact that France’s Forces got involved in the Mali crisis. There were allegations that the militants requested 2 of their terrorist members held in the U.S. to be released in exchange of the hostages.
RT also reported that, after a 4 day long standoff, Algerian Special Forces stormed the facility and 29 militants got killed while 3 were captured. Among the nationalities of the hostage takers, there were Egyptians, Canadian, Tunisians, Malians and Mauritanians. It is alleged that they cross to the country passing through Libya.
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