French troops kill head of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali - Defense Minister

Paris [France], June 6 (Sputnik/ANI): Abdelmalek Droukdel, head of the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb terror group, has been killed by French troops in northern Mali, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said.

"The French troops supported by partners neutralized on June 3 Emir of the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), Abdelmalek Droukdel, and many his close affiliates during an operation in northern Mali," Parly wrote on her Twitter page on late Friday.

The minister added that Droukdel had led all the AQMI operations in northern Africa and the region of Sahel.

The situation in Mali was destabilized in 2012 when the Tuareg militants seized vast territories in the northern part of the country. The conflict escalated even more over the activities of Islamists, forces loyal to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as well as French interference.

The AQIM has been operating in North Africa and the Sahel since 2007. (Sputnik/ANI)