N'DJAMENA, Chad— Chadian President Idriss Deby announced Friday that Chadian troops fighting to dislodge an al-Qaida affiliate in northern Mali killed one of the group's leading commanders, Abou Zeid.
The death of the Algerian warlord, a feared radical leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, could not be verified. His death would be a big blow to his group, which has been behind the kidnapping of several Westerners, and its growing influence in North and West Africa.
Officials in Mali and in France, which is leading an international military intervention in Mali against Islamic extremists linked to the group, could not confirm the death. The White House had no immediate reaction. The United States has offered drones and intelligence help to the French-led operation.
The Chadian president's spokesman told the Associated Press that Deby announced the death of Abou Zeid during a ceremony Friday for Chadian soldiers killed in fighting in Mali. The spokesman insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak ahead of an announcement on state television on the matter.