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Jihadist chief killed by French troops in Mali

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French soldiers from Operation Barkhane on patrol in Timbuktu, 6 November 2014. Reuters/Joe Penney

French forces killed a leading member of the jihadi group Al-Murabitoun in northern Mali on Wednesday night, the army announced on Thursday.


"Last night French forces conducted an operation in the Gao region in coordination with the Malian authorities," French colonel Gilles Jaron announced.

The dead man was Ahmed el Tilemsi, the psuedonym of Abderahmane Ould el Amar, the leader of Al-Murabitoun's Mali division, who is on the US's wanted list.

Dossier: War in Mali

"About a dozen armed members of the group have also been neutralised," the French army said on Thursday.

The French had been searching for El Tilemsi for days, a government source said but he denied that the operation was linked with the release of French hostage Serge Lazarevic on Tuesday.

According to the same French government source, El Tilemsi was also the organiser of the kidnapping of French hostage French hostage Gilberto Rodrigues Leal, who is believed to be dead.

Al-Murabitoun was formed in 2013 by the fusion of Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar's Signatories in Blood and the Mali-based group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao).

About 1,400 French soldiers are deployed in Mali and take part in the anti-terrorist Barkhane operation in the Sahelo-Saharan region .