PARIS (Reuters) - French forces in Mali have killed a senior commander of the al Mourabitoun Islamist group who was wanted by the United States during an overnight operation in the northern region of Gao, a defense ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
Ahmed al Tilemsi was a founding member of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), which merged with fighters loyal to veteran Islamist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar to form al Mourabitoun last year.
“Last night, we launched an operation in the Gao region in coordination with Malian forces,” Colonel Gilles Jarron told reporters in Paris. He added that Tilesmi has been killed and a dozen other Islamists were 'neutralized', but he did not specify if they were killed or arrested.
The United States has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of al Tilemsi, who participated in the 2011 kidnapping of two French nationals in Niger.
(Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Daniel Flynn and David Lewis)