(Reuters) French forces have killed Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, one of the most feared commanders of al Qaeda's north Africa wing, during an operation against Islamist fighters in mountainous northern Mali, Algeria's Ennahar television said on Thursday.
Abou Zeid was among 40 militants killed three days ago in the foothills of the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains near the Algerian border, said Ennahar, which is well connected with Algeria's security services.
French and Chadian troops have been hunting fighters there after a lightning campaign to dislodge them from northern Mali.
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A spokesman for France's Elysee presidential palace declined to comment. Algeria's government, Malian and Chadian officials could not confirm Abou Zeid's killing.