French forces have killed Bah ag Moussa, a military leader of al Qaeda’s North Africa wing, during an operation in northeastern Mali, France’s Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Friday.
The former Malian army colonel, also known as Bamoussa Diarra, 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 (JNIM), which has repeatedly attacked soldiers and civilians in Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso.
“A historic figure of the jihadist movement in the Sahel, Bah ag Moussa is considered responsible for several attacks against Malian and international forces,” Parly said in a statement.
Moussa, who was listed on U.S. and United Nations lists of designated terrorists, was killed on Tuesday after an operation involving ground troops and helicopters.
“This is a major success in the fight against terrorism,” Parly said.
It comes after a series of operations that have seen French forces kill dozens of Islamist fighters in recent weeks.
France’s defence ministry said late on Friday that the latest one had resulted in the deaths of several dozen people identified as militant fighters in an air and land operation in southern Mali on Thursday.
Former colonial power France has more than 5,100 personnel spread across the region with a large portion in Mali operating against rising militancy.