Three other extremists were also killed during the weekend’s counterterrorism operation around Aguelhok, in northern Mali, Florence Parly said in a statement. The operation targeted a group suspected of planning an attack on UN forces in the region.
French authorities identified one of those killed as Baye ag Bakabo, believed to be behind the kidnapping and murder of Radio France Internationale journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon in November 2013.
The killings sparked new efforts to protect journalists in conflict zones.
RFI reported on Friday that the jihadist leader was driving the beige van used for the kidnapping, and that in recent months he had led an armed group tasked with “eliminating all those suspected of collaborating” with French forces operating in the region. of the Sahel in Africa.
RFI regretted that he was killed instead of being captured, affirming that “his testimony could have raised areas of doubt which continue to cast a shadow on this affair”. Only a member of the unit behind the kidnapping is still alive, said RFI.
The announcement of his death comes the day after the announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron of a reduction of French forces in the Sahel and of a “profound transformation” of France’s military operation in Mali and in the neighboring countries so that it relies more on regional partners.
The Associated Press