Categories: Africa

French Troops Kill Al-Qaeda Leader, Droukdel In Mali

FILES) This undated handout file photo taken on July 26, 2010 apparently shows Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) chief Abdelmalek Droukdel, aka Abu Musab Abdul Wadud speaking at an unknown location. Hand-Out / AFP

 

France said its forces have killed the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in a blow to the group behind a string of deadly attacks across the troubled Sahel region.

Abdelmalek Droukdel was killed on Thursday in northern Mali near the Algerian border, where the group has bases from which it has carried out attacks and abductions of Westerners in the sub-Saharan Sahel zone, Defence Minister Florence Parly said Friday.

“Many close associates” of the Algerian — who commanded several affiliate jihadist groups across the lawless region — were also “neutralised”, she added.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emerged from a group started in the late 1990s by radical Algerian Islamists, who in 2007 pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.

The group has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on troops and civilians across the Sahel, including a 2016 attack on an upmarket hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso, which killed 30 people, mainly Westerners.

The death of Droukdel — once regarded as Algeria’s enemy number one — could leave AQIM in disarray, French military sources suggested.

Haven for jihadists 

France has deployed more than 5,000 troops to combat jihadist groups in the region — a largely lawless expanse stretching over Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, where drugs and arms flow through porous borders.

Northern Mali is the site of frequent clashes between rival armed groups, as well as a haven for jihadist activity.

In 2012, key cities fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda, who exploited an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising, leading to a French-led military intervention.

According to the UN, Droukdel was an explosives expert and manufactured devices that killed hundreds of civilians in attacks on public places.

He was sentenced to death in Algeria in 2013 for his involvement in the bombings of a government building and offices of the UN’s refugee committee in Algiers that killed 26 people and wounded 177.

The US said it had provided intelligence to help track down Droukdel, who was killed in Talhandak, northwest of the town of Tessalit.

“US Africa Command was able to assist with intelligence and… support to fix the target,” spokesman Colonel Chris Karns told CNN.

 ‘Charismatic, ruthless’ 

France also claimed on Friday to have captured a leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) group, which carries out frequent attacks over Niger’s western borders.

“On May 19, French forces captured Mohamed el Mrabat, veteran jihadist in the Sahel region and an important cadre in EIGS,” Parly said on Twitter.

Operations against EIGS “the other great terrorist threat in the region” are continuing, she added.

Mali is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in 2012 and has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives since.

Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed the centre of the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

A source told AFP that some 500 jihadist fighters had been killed or captured by French troops in the region in recent months, among them several leading figures including commanders and recruiters.

Droukdel’s death is a symbolic coup for the French, a military source said.

He had remained a threat in the region, capable of financing jihadist movements, even though his leadership had been contested, the source added.

His death, and that of other Al-Qaeda figures, could leave the group in disarray in the Sahel.

The Counter-Terrorism Project website said Droukdel has been described as charismatic but ruthless, ready to eliminate members of AQIM who rejected his instructions or ideological positions.

Born in 1971 in a poor neighbourhood of Algiers, Droukdel — also known as Abou Moussaab Abdelouadoud — took part in the founding in Algeria of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, elected Algerian president in 1999, managed to persuade most of the armed groups in the country to lay down their weapons.

The GSPC, however, refused to do so and Droukdel decided to approach Al-Qaeda.

AFP

Ignatius Igwe

Disqus Comments Loading...
Share
Published by
Ignatius Igwe
Tags: Abdelmalek Droukdel al Qaeda France

Recent Posts

  • World News

COVID-19 Deaths Exceed 400,000 Globally

  The novel coronavirus has killed at least 407,914 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to…

7 mins ago
  • environment
  • World News

China Removes Pangolin, World’s Most Trafficked Animal, From Traditional Medicine List

  China has removed pangolin parts from its official list of traditional medicines, state media reported Tuesday, days after increasing…

18 mins ago
  • World News

UK Protesters Call For Removal Of Cecil Rhodes Statue From Oxford

  Thousands of people called on Tuesday for a statue of 19th century British imperialist Cecil Rhodes to be removed…

27 mins ago
  • Local

Gbajabiamila Intervenes In Planned Strike By Resident Doctors

  The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila,…

44 mins ago
  • Local

Frontline Health Workers To Get Hazard Allowance – FG

    The Federal Government has agreed to pay two months hazard allowance to health workers in the frontline battling…

1 hour ago
  • Coronavirus

Edo Discharges Five More COVID-19 Patients

    The Edo State Government has announced the discharge of five more coronavirus (COVID-19) patients who have tested negative.…

2 hours ago