Tags: ahmed al tilemsi | islamist | killed | french | mali

Ahmed al Tilemsi, Islamist Chief, Killed by French Forces in Mali

By    |   Thursday, 11 Dec 2014 10:07 AM

Ahmed al Tilemsi, a senior commander of the al Mourabitoun Islamist group who was wanted by the U.S., has been killed by French forces in northern Mali.

The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of al Tilemsi, who took part in the 2011 kidnapping of two French nationals in Niger and of three aid workers in Algeria later that year, reported Reuters.

Al Tilemsi was a founding member of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), which merged with fighters loyal to veteran Islamist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar to form al Mourabitoun last year.

"Last night, we launched an operation in the Gao region in coordination with Malian forces," Colonel Gilles Jarron told reporters in Paris on Thursday. He added that al Tilesmi had been killed and a dozen other Islamists 'neutralized', but did not specify if that meant killed or arrested.

MUJWA, Belmokhtar's men and members of al Qaeda's north Africa arm, AQIM, formed a loose alliance of fighters that seized northern Mali's desert regions in 2012.

The militants were scattered by a French offensive in January 2013 but France has kept about 3,200 troops in the Sahara-Sahel region as part of a counter-insurgency force.

An additional 200-400 special forces have a mandate to hunt down leaders of the Islamist groups, which have mounted a resurgence in recent months with a series of attacks that have killed dozens of U.N. peacekeepers in Mali.

The last of the French hostages held by the al Qaeda-linked militants was freed earlier this week. However, sources said Mali released at least two Islamists in return, angering local rights groups.

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Ahmed al Tilemsi, a senior commander of the al Mourabitoun Islamist group who was wanted by the U.S., has been killed by French forces in northern Mali.
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Thursday, 11 Dec 2014 10:07 AM
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