One of the most feared Islamic militant leaders, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, has reportedly been killed by a US airstrike in Libya, according to the local authorities.
Belmokhtar appears to have at least nine lives as he has reportedly been killed several times in the past, so the US is awaiting confirmation before announcing his demise officially.
A veteran of Algeria’s internal struggle in the 1990s and Afghanistan, he built up a smuggling operation from the Saharan wastes that ignored borders and authority as it carved out a commercial empire and swore fidelity to al-Qaeda.
Long thought by the French to be “uncatchable”, he masterminded the 2013 attack on the Amanas gas field in Algeria in which 40 workers died. His men conducted lucrative kidnappings, and his forces also engaged in the conflict in Mali where he shared ideology with Boko Haram.
For the moment the US only confirms he was targeted in the airstrike, but Washington does not have enough information as yet to confirm his death.