ALGIERS - A senior commander of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb died in a car accident in northern Mali on Sunday, an Algerian security official said.

Nabil Sahrawi, an Algerian national who is also known as Abu Olqoma, was a military commander of AQIM in the Sahara desert and the deputy of Abdelhamid Abu Zeid, one of AQIM's leading field commanders in the Sahara desert.

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Abu Zeid is believed by many security experts to have ordered the killing of two foreigners kidnapped by his group, Frenchman Michel Germaneau and Briton Edwin Dyer.

"Nabil Sahrawi died in a car accident in the city of Gao, north of Mali," the Algerian official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.