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Al Qaeda kingpin 'killed in Mali'

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 true, his death would be a "blow to terrorism".

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Chadian forces claim to have killed 'The Uncatchable'

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.

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