- 9 updates
Leading al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, thought to be behind January's hostage crisis in Algeria, has been killed in Mali, according to Chadian forces.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said if confirmed, his death would be a "blow to terrorism".
ITV News' Mark Thatcher reports.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the death of Mokhtar Belmokhtar would be a “blow to terrorism” but was unable to confirm reports that the al Qaeda commander had been killed in the north of Mali.
He told BBC's Andrew Marr: "It doesn't mean the problems of Mali would be at an end, there's a lot to do to promote a political process in Mali, elections, legitimate government and so on."
One of the world's most infamous terrorists is believed to be dead tonight. Chad's armed forces say Mokhtar Belmokhtar was killed by their soldiers in Mali today. He was said to have ordered January's attack on an Algerian gas plant where 37 hostages were killed.
ITV News correspondent Harry Smith has the latest:
Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for the seizure of dozens of foreign hostages at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria in January in which more than 60 people were killed.
The Chadian claims of his death comes days after Chad's President Idriss Deby said soldiers in Mali had killed another leading al Qaeda commander in the Sahara, Adelhamid Abou Zeid.
French officials said they could not confirm the killing of either Abou Zeid or Belmokhtar.
The Foreign Office has confirmed it is investigating claims Chadian soldiers have killed leading al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar in northern Mali.
An FCO spokesperson said: "We are aware of (the) reports and looking into it."
The death of leading al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar would bring to an end an exhaustive manhunt for a militant branded "The Uncatchable" by the French intelligence.
- Belmokhtar, who Chadian forces claim to have killed in northern Mali, is a one-eyed veteran Islamist guerrilla and smuggler, dubbed "Mr Marlboro" for his illicit cigarette empire.
- He was named by Algerian officials as the man behind January's oil field kidnapping.
- Belmokhtar has been linked to multiple kidnappings of foreigners in North Africa in the last decade, including the taking of 32 European tourists in 2003.
- An Algerian court sentenced Belmokhtar in absentia to a life sentence for his role in the killing of 10 Algerian custom agents in 2007.
- It was claimed he orchestrated January's kidnappings in Algeria, but from a distance, with him based in the rebel-held town of Gao in northern Mali.
- Only last year, Algerian media reports of his death in violence in Gao in northern Mali proved unfounded, only expanding his elusive status.
A spokesman for the Chadian Army has said on national television their forces have killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar in Mali.
Jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who Chad officials claim has been killed by their armed forces, allegedly planned the hostage taking of hundreds of foreign workers at a BP co-owned gas facility in Algeria earlier this year.
A spokesman for the Chad Armed Forces says that their soldiers in Mali have killed the leading al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, according to Reuters. It's understood that he was killed in the north of Mali.