May 20, 2015 / 3:54 PM / 2 years ago

France says killed two Islamist chiefs in Sahel region

PARIS (Reuters) - French special forces operating in Africa's Sahel region have killed two senior Islamist militant commanders, a defense ministry statement said on Wednesday.

The statement described the two as "important terrorist chiefs" from the groups Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Ansar Eddine. It named them as Amada Ag Hama, also known as Abdelkrim the Touareg, or Abdelkrim al-Targui, and Ibrahim Ag Inawalen, alias "Bana".

Amada Ag Hama was the most senior member of the Malian Tuareg community to join AQIM, standing out in a group which was dominated by Algerians and leading a katiba fighting force that was primarily made up of Malian Tuaregs.

He is also the cousin of Iyad Ag Ghaly, the commander of Ansar Eddine, and has been linked to a number of killings, including two RFI journalists in 2013.

The French defense ministry statement said the two were among four killed during an operation in the night of May 17 and 18.

France's intervention against Islamist militants in Mali in 2013 has mutated into a broader regional mission to hunt down Islamists across the Sahel.

Reporting by Andrew Callus and David Lewis; Editing by Ingrid Melander, Dominique Vidalon and Mark Heinrich

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