France says it has killed the leader of Isis in the Sahara in what it called a “decisive blow” against the terror group.
President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that Abu al-Walid al-Sahrawi had "was neutralized by French forces" but gave no further details.
Rumors of the militant leader’s death had circulated for weeks in Mali, though there had been no confirmation by authorities in the region.
"This is a decisive blow against this terrorist group," French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted. "Our fight continues."
It was not announced where al-Sahrawi was killed, though the Isis affiliate has been blamed for dozens of attacks along the border between Mali and Niger.
Al-Sahrawi had claimed responsibility for a 2017 attack in Niger that killed four U.S. military personnel and four people with Niger’s military.
He has long been active with Islamic extremists in Mali, at one time serving as the spokesman of the Mali-based group known as MUJAO that controlled the major northern town of Gao during the jihadist occupation in 2012.
France has been fighting Islamic extremists in the Sahel region where it was once the colonial power after intervening in northern Mali in 2013. It recently announced, though, that it would be drawing down its military presence in the region, with plans to withdraw 2,000 troops by early next year.
AP contributed to this report
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