A senior commander of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) responsible for the abduction and murder of two French journalists in 2013 has been eliminated by French troops during an operation in Mali, Florence Parly, France’s Defense Minister, announced on June 11.
In a statement, Parly said that the commander, Baye Ag Bakabo, was killed along with three other terrorists on June 5 when troops from Operation Barkhane, the codename of French military intervention in the Sahel region of West Africa, foiled an attack on UN forces in northern Mali.
Bakabo was the mastermind behind the abduction of Radio France Internationale journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, aged 57 and 55 respectively, on November 2 2013. The journalists were executed by AQMI terrorists on the same day. Their bodies were found near Kidal in northeastern Mali.
“His [Bakabo] neutralization puts an end to a long wait,” Parly said in a statement, sending her “thoughts to the families and loved ones” of the two journalists.
Earlier this week, President Emmanuel Macron said that Operation Barkhane would come to an end with French troops operating as part of broader international efforts in the Sahel region.
The French decision came days following a coup d’état by Malian army Colonel Assimi Goita, who took power after overthrowing the second president in nine months. Paris responded by suspending joint military operations and national advisory missions with the Malian military
More than 5,000 troops took part in the large-scale operation which was launched on the 1st of August 2014. A total of 41 French service members were killed. Yet, the security situation in the Sahel region didn’t improved much.
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