ALGIERS - French forces in Mali have killed Abdelhamid Abu Zeid, a leading field commander of al-Qaida's north Africa wing AQIM, Algerian Ennahar television reported on Thursday.
The station said 40 militants including Abu Zeid were killed in the region of Tigargara in northern Mali three days ago. A French Defense Ministry official declined to comment on the report. Algeria did not confirm the killing.
France launched a whirlwind assault to retake Mali's vast northern desert region from AQIM and other Islamist rebels on January 11 after a plea from Mali's caretaker government. The military intervention dislodged the rebels from several main towns they had occupied and drove them back into desert wilds.