Africa

Top Mali jihadist Amadou Koufa killed in French raid - army

A French soldiers stands guard in an armoured vehicle as a helicopter leave a position in Mali. File photo Image copyright Reuters
Image caption French troops helped the Malian army to push back jihadists from northern Mali in 2013

One of Mali's top jihadist leaders has been killed in a raid by French forces, the Malian army says.

It says Amadou Koufa died in Friday's operation in the central Mopti region.

France earlier suggested that Koufa might be among about 30 Islamists "put out of action" in the raid.

The radical preacher is described as a senior member of the Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) group that has carried out frequent attacks in Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso.

"I confirm that Amadou Koufa was killed during the operation," Malian army spokesman Col Diarran Kone told Reuters news agency on Saturday. He declined to provide any further details.

The French army had earlier said that its operation targeted a base controlled by Koufa.

JNIM has so far made no public comments on the latest reports.

Large swathes of northern Mali were seized by jihadists in 2012 until they were pushed back in a French-led military operation the following year.

But parts of the country are still out of the government's control.

France, the former colonial power, has thousands of troops in the volatile region to stem the insurgency.

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