Al­leged Al­ge­ria gas plant bomber Belmokhtar gets killed in US strike: re­port

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Al- Qaida- l i nked ji­hadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who al­legedly mas­ter­minded the siege of an Al­ge­rian gas plant in which 38 hostages died, has been killed in a U.S. airstrike, Libya’s in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment said.

“Amer­i­can jets con­ducted an op­er­a­tion which re­sulted in the deaths of Mokhtar Belmokhtar and a group of Libyans be­long­ing to a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion in eastern Libya,” said a state­ment posted on Face­book.

The Pen­tagon said Belmokhtar had been the tar­get but did not con­firm his death, which has been re­ported many times in the past.

Hatem el-Ou­raybi, spokesman for the rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment, told AFP on Mon­day: “Co­or­di­na­tion with the U.S. will con­tinue in fight­ing th­ese ter­ror­ist groups.”

The strike came as part of “the in­ter­na­tional sup­port that we have al­ways asked for in or­der to fight ter­ror­ist groups in Libya,” Ou­raybi said.

Is­lamist com­man­der Belmokhtar, nick­named var­i­ously as “The Uncatchable,” “Mr. Marl­boro” and “The One-Eyed,” was leader of the North African Al- Mura­bitoun mil­i­tant group and a for­mer chief of al-Qaida in the Is­lamic Maghreb.

He al­legedly mas­ter­minded the 2013 siege of an Al­ge­rian gas plant in which 38 hostages, mostly Western­ers, were killed.

“I can con­firm that the tar­get of last night’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism strike in Libya was Mokhtar Belmokhtar,” U.S. De­fense Depart­ment spokesman Col. Steve War­ren said in a state­ment Sun­day.

“The strike was car­ried out by U.S. air­craft. We are con­tin­u­ing to as­sess the re­sults of the op­er­a­tion and will pro­vide more de­tails as ap­pro­pri­ate.”

Wash­ing­ton has pre­vi­ously used drones against tar­gets in North Africa, but the New York Times re­ported this was the first U.S. airstrike of any kind in Libya since Moamer Kad­hafi’s regime fell in 2011.

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