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