French Army Kills Senior Al-Qaeda Leader in Mali Strike
A senior leader of an Al Qaeda-linked militant group has been killed by French troops in a military operation in Mali.
A report by Anadolu Agency quoted French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly as saying that Bah Ag Moussa—also known as Bamoussa Diarra—succumbed to airstrike wounds during what it called the Operation Barkhane on November 10.
Parly said the operation was carried out with the assistance of significant intelligent resources as well as ground troops and helicopters.
French military spokesman Col. Frederic Barbry was quoted as telling reporters on Friday that a surveillance drone helped French troops in identifying Moussa’s truck in the Menaka region which was then fired by helicopters and 15 French commandos.
All five people in the truck were killed after ignoring warning shots.
According to the report, Ag Moussa was responsible for several attacks against the Malian and international forces in the region over the past few years. He is a former Malian Army Officer who later joined rebel forces in 2012.
Ag Moussa was the right-hand man of infamous jihadi group leader Iyad Ag Ghali who founded Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM). He was included in the United States’ terrorism list.
Barbry described the operation as an act of “legitimate defense” and said the bodies were handled “in conformity with international humanitarian law.”
He declined to comment on queries whether allied forces including the US contributed intelligence to the operation.
“I congratulate our soldiers for this success which deprives Iyad Ag Ghali of one of its main assistants. Their commitment, their courage, and their selflessness make us strong and proud,” Parly was quoted as saying.
“This is a major success in the fight against terrorism,” she added.
The French military announced the latest operation during the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack that killed 130 people in Paris.
France has more than 5,100 troops deployed in the region to combat terrorism.
Islamist insurgents were forced from power in northern Mali following a French-led military operation in 2013 but were believed to have regrouped in the desert where they launched frequent attacks on the Malian army and their allies.
Photo from Flickr (Radio Raheem).