Al Qaeda confirms leader slain

2013-03-05 08:12:59 GMT2013-03-05 16:12:59(Beijing Time)  SINA.com
One of the leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid is shown in an undisclosed place, December 25, 2012. One of the leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid is shown in an undisclosed place, December 25, 2012.

An Al-Qaeda source has confirmed the death of one of the leaders of the organisation's north African wing, in the most significant success yet for the French-led operation against Islamist fighters in Mali.

But there were no public celebrations in Paris on Monday as relatives of hostages held in the region voiced fears the development leaves their loved ones at greater risk and called for a pause in the bombing to allow for negotiations aimed at securing their release.

Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, a senior figure in Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was killed last week in a French bombing raid in the Ifoghas mountains, an AQIM militant told the private Mauritanian news agency Sahara Medias.

The source insisted however that another Islamist leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was alive and still fighting.

That contradicted claims over the weekend from Chad that its troops had killed Belmokhtar, the mastermind of the January assault on an Algerian gas plant in January that left 37 foreign hostages dead. Chad has also said its troops were responsible for killing Abou Zeid.

A French broadcaster on Monday published a cell phone picture which it said showed the bloodied body of Belmokhtar.

Radio France Internationale said the picture, reproduced on its website, was taken by a Chadian soldier in northern Mali.

(Agencies)

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