The United States Air Force killed a top Islamic militant on Sunday in an air strike on Libya, officials reported.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who ordered a deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant two years ago, was killed in the eastern city of Ajdabiya, according to a statement from Libya’s government.
Air Force officials say Belmokhtar was targeted and that the strike was successful, but that it is still assessing the operation’s results and would release more details “as appropriate”.
The caution likely comes from the fact that Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s death has been reported many times in the past.
Born in Algeria, Belmokhtar became a senior figure in al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), before leaving to form his own militia.
He gained notoriety for attacking the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria in 2013, in which 800 people were taken hostage and 40 were killed. Most of those killed were foreigners, including six Britons and three Americans.
Belmokhtar was wanted on terror charges, filed by the U.S. and officials said they believed he remained a threat to Western interests.
“Belmokhtar has a long history of leading terrorist activities as a member of AQIM, is the operational leader of the al-Qaeda-associated al-Murabitoun organisation in north-west Africa, and maintains his personal allegiance to al-Qaeda,” said Pentagon spokesman Col Steve Warren.
The U.S. hunting Mokhtar Belmokhtar illustrates the breadth and depth of its counter-terrorism efforts.
The attack on Libya was launched by two F-15 aircraft and not drone.
As we recently covered, Libya is an area of concern for both America and Europe. The instability created by the removal of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 is providing a rich vein of ungoverned space in which the Islamic State (ISIS) has established a significant presence.
The Libyan government was consulted on the attack and a statement said it resulted in the death of the “terrorist Belmokhtar”.