France claims to have killed senior al-Qaeda official in North Africa in Mali

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PARIS (Reuters) – French forces killed Bah ag Moussa, a military leader of the North Africa branch of al-Qaeda, during an operation in northeastern Mali, the armed forces minister said on Friday. Florence Parly.

The former Malian army colonel, also known as Bamoussa Diarra, was a right-hand man of Iyad Ag Ghali, the leader of Mali’s largest jihadist group, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin ( JNIM), which has repeatedly attacked soldiers and civilians in Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso.

“Historical 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 on the US terrorism list, was killed on Tuesday after an operation involving ground troops and helicopters and follows a series of operations that have seen French forces kill dozens of Islamist fighters in recent weeks .

“This is a major achievement in the fight against terrorism,” Parly said.

A former colonial power, France has more than 5,100 people spread across the region, a large part of which in Mali operates against the rise of militancy.

Reporting by Tangi Salaun; Written by John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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