Former AQIM leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar
Former AQIM leader Mokhtar BelmokhtarReuters

The former Al Qaeda terrorist mastermind of an attack in January on an Algerian gas field has been killed in a military assault in Mali.

Military spokesperson General Zacharia Gobongue announced in a statement on Chad national television Saturday that Belmokhtar died in an assault that “completely destroyed the main base used by jihadists and narco-terrorists... several of the terrorists were killed, including the chief, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the ‘one-eyed.’"

Belmokhtar, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, had organized and masterminded the terror attack on the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria. The gas installation, located in southern Algeria, is jointly run by the British BP oil giant, together with the Algerian national Sonatrach, and Norway’s Statoil. Belmokhtar's Masked Brigade terrorist group said the attack came as retaliation for Algeria's willingness to allow French fighter jets to use Algerian air space to cross into Mali. 

The Islamist rebel base in which he was killed was located in northern Mali, where most of the fighting is taking place.

French military officials who are leading the offensive against the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group trying to overthrow the Malian government said it could not immediately confirm Belmokhtar’s death.

One day earlier, Chad President Idriss Deby announced that his military forces had killed Abou Zeid, the second-in-command of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the leader of the Al Qaeda-linked forces fighting foreign troops in northern Mali.

Chad is among several African nations fighting alongside France and Canada to defend Mali against an attempted coup by terrorist forces.

Abou Zeid, an Algerian national, is accused of killed two Western citizens – UK national Edwin Dyer in 2009, and French citizen Michel Germaneau in 2010. 

As with Belmokhtar’s reported demise, Abou Zeid’s death has not yet been confirmed. However, a U.S. official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity that the report appeared “very credible.”