Al-Qaeda confirms key chief Abdelmalek Droukdel killed by French soldiers
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Al-Qaeda's North Africa wing, AQIM has published a video confirming the death of Algerian chief Abdelmalek Droukdel, killed by French special forces earlier this month in northern Mali. The message calls for continued battles against foreign forces in the Sahel region.
France said in early June that its forces had killed Droukdel in northern Mali near the Algerian border, where it says the group has bases it uses to carry out bombings and abductions of Westerners.
"After nearly two weeks, AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) has officially acknowledged the death of its long time leader Droukdel (Wadud), with a video eulogy narrated by AQIM's head of media, pledging continued battles against occupying French forces and others in N. Africa and the Sahel," SITE director Rita Katz said Thursday on her Twitter account.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said June 6 that many close associates of the Algerian -- who commanded several groups under the AQIM banner -- were also "neutralised."
"Nous avons neutralisé le chef d'Al-Qaida au Maghreb Islamique, Abdelmalek Droukdel, grâce à une intervention audacieuse, mais qui n'aurait jamais pu se produire sans le renseignement que les Etats-Unis nous a fourni." - @florence_parly (@Armees_Gouv)#DirectSénat pic.twitter.com/PJJXGet35v— Sénat Direct (@Senat_Direct) June 18, 2020
She said that the "this is a major success for the combat, which is essential for peace and stability in the region."
The United States said it had provided information and support in the operation.
Attacks against Westerners
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 said it has carried out numerous attacks on troops and civilians across the Sahel, including a 2016 attack on an upmarket hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso that 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 have said.
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.
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