The French government announced on Tuesday that the French Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism mission conducted a raid on Sunday which resulted with the death of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) commander Ali Ag Wadossene in Mali.
The raid was set after an AQIM attack which killed six UN soldiers on peacekeeping mission in northern Mali.
The army released a statement saying that they damaged the organisation structure of AQIM and added that “the operation has dealt another heavy blow to armed terrorist groups in the Sahel."
Mali announced in December that Wadossene and three more prisoners were exchanged with French prisoner Serge Lazarevic. The information from Mali was not confirmed by France.
Wadossene participated in the abduction of Lazarevic in 2011. Lazarevic has been one of many French citizens to be detained in Africa since 2000.
Wadossene was the commander to an al-Qaeda battalion and a former lieutenant in one the units which clashed with the French army in 2013 in northern Mali.
French special forces conducted a raid in 2013 and killed one of the group’s operational leaders, Abdelkrim the Tuareg, who alleged abducted and killed French journalist Ghislaine Dupont in Mali.
In January 2013, France launched a UN-backed military intervention to drive Al Qaeda-linked militants from towns in northern Mali which they had seized in 2012. The militants have since mounted an insurgency targeting the Malian army and UN troops.
1,000 French soldiers have been deployed in northern Mali as part of Operation Barkhane and 3,000 more in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. Additionally, 11,000 UN peacekeeping soldiers have been located in Mali since 2013.
The fight between armed groups in northern Mali started in 2012 for independence or greater autonomy.
On June 20, the government of Mali and the Tuareg-led northern armed groups signed a peace deal to withdraw from the northern town of Menaka and end their uprising.
Tuareg forces, Mali’s biggest rebel organization, had taken control of the region by April 2012.
Since 1962, the Tuareg group has launched four uprisings, fighting the army over the territory they claim as their homeland, called Azawad.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) started mission in Mali in April 2013.
According to United Nations, 42 peacekeepers have been killed, including 10 so far this year and 166 others have been wounded.