French forces kill commander with al Qaeda branch in Mali

France’s army confirmed on Tuesday that its special forces had killed a prominent commander with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s north African branch, during a weekend operation in the northern Mali region of Kidal.

France led a military operation to drive Islamist militant groups, including AQIM, out of northern Mali in 2013 after they seized the vast, desert zone a year earlier amid a Tuareg uprising. However, Islamist militants have intensified operations this year raising regional fears of a spillover in violence, with Malian group Ansar Dine claiming responsibility for a series of recent attacks against UN soldiers and Malian army targets.



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