MOSCOW, March 3 (RIA Novosti) - Chadian soldiers in northern Mali killed on Saturday Mokhtar Belmokhtar, one of al-Qaeda-linked commanders responsible for mass hostage taking at a desert gas plant in eastern Algeria, Al Jazeera reported.
The agency reported citing the Chadian Army that Belmokhtar was killed in the Ifogha mountains during a special operation.
“On Saturday, March 2, at noon, Chadian armed forces operating in northern Mali completely destroyed a terrorist base ... The toll included several dead terrorists, including their leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar,” Al Jazeera quoted Chadian Armed Forces spokesman General Zacharia Gobongue as saying.
Belmokhtar was an Algerian national and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, where his smuggling activities landed him a nickname of ‘Mr. Marlboro.’ Weeks ago he broke from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) organization to form his own militant group Signatories in Blood.
In mid-January, terrorists led by Belmokhtar, staged a deadly attack on a natural gas field near the town of In Amenas seizing hundreds of Algerians and foreigners. In the following operation to free hostages, Algerian troops liberated 686 Algerians and 107 foreigners, but 37 foreign hostages were killed.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.