France says top al-Qaida leader in Mali killed

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France’s defence minister Florence Parly on Friday said that the country’s forces have killed Bah ag Moussa, a military leader of al Qaeda’s North Africa wing, during an operation in northeastern Mali.

“A historic figure of the jihadist movement in the Sahel, Bah ag Moussa is considered responsible for several attacks against Malian and international forces. This is a major success in the fight against terrorism”, Parly said in a statement.

The former Malian army colonel, also known as Bamoussa Diarra, was killed on Tuesday after an operation involving ground troops and helicopters. He was a right-hand man of Iyad Ag Ghali, the leader of Mali’s most prominent jihadi group, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin. He was also on the United States terrorism list.

France has deployed more than 5,000 troops in the Sahel region to combat insurgents, with a large portion in Mali operating against rising militancy. Earlier this month, Parly said that the country’s forces have killed over 50 jihadists in central Mali.

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