France Confirms Death of Al-Qaeda Chief Abou Zeid
The al-Qaeda-linked warlord Abou Zeid was killed in combat with French-led troops in Mali in February, France said Saturday, ending weeks of uncertainty about whether one of the group’s leading commanders in the region was dead.
In a statement Saturday the office of French President Francois Hollande said the death was “definitively confirmed” and that the killing “marks an important step in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel.”
Chad’s president had said earlier this month that Chadian troops killed Abou Zeid while fighting to dislodge his al-Qaeda affiliate in northern Mali. French officials have maintained for weeks that the Algerian was “probably” dead but waited to conduct DNA tests to verify.
Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, thought to be 47, was a pillar of the southern realm of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, responsible for the death of at least two European hostages and a leader of the extremist takeover of the north.