French Barkhane forces killed the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Algerian Abdelmalek Droukdel, in Mali’s Tessalit town, on Friday.
“On June 3, the French armed forces, with the support of their partners, neutralized the leader of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his close associates, during an operation in northern Mali,” Florence Parly, French Defense Minister, said in a statement Friday.
Droukdel commanded Al-Qaeda groups in North Africa and Sahel strip, including the Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) - the meain terrorist group active in the region, Parly said.
Radical Algerian Islamists created a group in the late 1990s and formally subscribed to Al-Qaeda’s ideology in 2007, forming the AQIM. Formerly known as Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, the group attacks westerners in sub-Saharan Sahel zone.
On Friday, the minister said, the military captured Mohamed Mrabat, the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) group on May 19.
Led by the French armed forces, in partnership with the G5 Sahel countries, Operation Barkhane was launched on August 1, 2014. It is based on a strategic approach and a partnership with the main countries of the Sahel-Saharan Strip (BSS): Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina-Faso.
Mali is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in 2012. The conflict has even spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.