Chadian president confirms AQIM commander killed in Mali

2013-03-01 21:37:28 GMT2013-03-02 05:37:28(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

N'DJAMENA, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno on Friday confirmed his soldiers had killed Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, a commander of Al-Qaida's branch in North Africa (AQIM).

In a statement, the president said Chadian soldiers killed Abou Zeid and another AQIM commander on Feb. 22 in the fighting in the mountainous region of Ifogha in northern Mali.

The confirmation came one day after Algerian television Ennahar reported that the Algeria-born AQIM commander and his 40 fighters were killed in northern Mali.

On Sunday, the Chadian military said 93 rebels were killed in the northern Mali operation and 23 Chadian soldiers died.

Chad, which has sent 2,000 troops to Mali together with thousands of other soldiers from the West African bloc ECOWAS, is expected to play a leading role in military operations in Mali as France plans to withdraw its soldiers next month.

Last week, Malian Prime Minister Diango Cissoko announced that large-scale military operations in his country "are coming to an end."

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