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The leader of the north African wing of al Qaeda, Abdehamid Abou Zeid, has reportedly been killed.
Abou Zeid died fighting French forces in the mountainous region of Adrar des Foghas in northern Mali three days ago according to Algeria’s Ennahar television.
Neither France nor Algeria has officially confirmed Abou Zeid’s death.
Seen as one of the most ruthless men in the North African wing of al Qaeda – known as AQIM – Abou Zeid is believed to have executed, British national Edwin Dyer in 2009 and 78-year-old Frenchman Michel Germaneau in 2010. Abou Zeid has also been involved in kidnappings of westerners.
Meanwhile French and Malian troops have launched an operation in the town of Kadji in northern Mali as they target Islamist rebels hiding out on an island on the Niger River. Some troops have already landed on the island.
Kadji itself also has several hundred followers of an Islamic fundamentalist movement called Ansar Sunna (Faithful to God’s Word).