Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar has been killed in a US air strike in Libya, officials say.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, 43, and other fighters were killed in the raid by aircraft in the eastern city of Ajdabiya, a statement from Libya’s government said.
The US has confirmed Mokhtar Belmokhtar was targeted but did not say he had died.
The Pentagon described the strike as successful and that officials were still assessing its results.
It would “provide more details as appropriate” said spokesman Colonel Steve Warren.
There have been incorrect reports of Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s death in the past.
Born in Algeria, Mokhtar Belmokhtar was a former senior figure in al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but left to form his own militia.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar gained notoriety with the attack on the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria in 2013, when about 800 people were taken hostage and 40 killed, most of them foreigners, including three Americans.
The US has filed terror charges against him and officials said they believed he remained a threat to Western interests.
Col. Steve Warren said: “Belmokhtar has a long history of leading terrorist activities as a member of AQIM, is the operational leader of the al-Qaeda-associated al-Murabitoun organization in north-west Africa, and maintains his personal allegiance to al-Qaeda.”
The Libyan government said the strike came after consultation with the US. Their statement said it resulted in the death of the “terrorist Belmokhtar”.
Libya has been in chaos since the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Its internationally recognized parliament is operating in exile in the eastern port of Tobruk.
A rival parliament, the Islamist-dominated General National Congress, is nearly 600 miles to the west in Tripoli.
Rival militia has been battling to fill the power vacuum, with Islamic State militants battling other Islamists in the east.
Two North African suspects thought to be linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have been arrested in Spain, according to police.
An Algerian identified as Nou Mediouni was arrested in Zaragoza, northern Spain, the interior ministry said.
The other suspect, a Moroccan named Hassan El Jaaouani, was arrested in Murcia in the south.
Two North African suspects thought to be linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have been arrested in Spain
They have “a similar profile to the two suspects who carried out the Boston attacks”, the ministry said. French police had helped to track them down.
AQIM is among several Islamist groups fighting French and West African troops in Mali.
It has its roots in the bitter Algerian civil war of the early 1990s, but in 2007 it emerged as an international jihadist group linked to Osama Bin Laden’s network. AQIM says its aim is to spread Islamic law and it is known for kidnapping Westerners and extracting ransoms.
It is not clear whether the men arrested in Spain are suspected of planning any attacks. Their similarity to the Boston marathon bombers was not explained in the ministry statement.
Moroccan Islamists linked to al-Qaeda were found guilty of the 2004 Madrid train bombings which killed nearly 200 people and injured more than 1,800.
Three Europeans have been abducted and a fourth has been killed by an armed gang of kidnappers in the city of Timbuktu in northern Mali, security sources said.
The three hostages’ nationality is not known. The man was shot dead trying to resist the gang, reports said.
It is believed to be the first time foreigners have been abducted in Timbuktu, once popular with tourists.
Three Europeans have been abducted and a fourth has been killed by an armed gang of kidnappers in the city of Timbuktu in northern Mali
The incident comes a day after two French geologists were kidnapped by an armed gang in the eastern village of Hombori.
The gunmen burst in as the four were dining in a restaurant on the central square of the ancient city of Timbuktu.
They ordered the Europeans there to follow them, a customer at Amanar restaurant told the Associated Press.
One of them, an elderly man, refused to get inside the car and was killed on the spot, the witness said.
Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed government source as saying the dead man was German.
The incidents are the latest in a series of abductions of foreigners believed to be the work of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim).
Aqim has bases in the northern Mali desert from which it organizes raids and kidnappings, and traffics weapons and drugs.
French soldiers have joined Mali’s army in the hunt for the French pair kidnapped in Hombori, according to AFP.
They were the first Westerners in Mali to be kidnapped south of the River Niger.
The captives were named as Philippe Verdon and Serge Lazarevic, in documents seen by AFP.
They had been sent by the company Mande Construction Immobiliere to take soil samples in the Hombori region where it planned to build a cement factory.
A security guard at their hotel said that “the kidnappers were armed to the teeth”.
“I was tied up and told to point out the rooms of the Frenchmen, whom they brutally took away,” the security guard said.
Al-Qaeda-linked fighters have in the past brought hostages into northern Mali from neighbouring countries, such as Niger where four French nationals – still being held – were kidnapped in September 2010.
Huge swathes of the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert have been rendered off-limits to foreigners.
Timbuktu is one of the many former tourist destinations in Mali that have been deemed too dangerous to visit by foreign embassies due to the risk of kidnapping by the local chapter of al-Qaeda.
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