June 16, 2015 / 7:32 AM / 2 years ago

Libyan militants appear to deny veteran fighter killed in U.S. strike

Veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar speaks in this undated still image taken from a video released by Sahara Media on January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Sahara Media via Reuters TV

CAIRO (Reuters) - A Libyan militant group appeared to deny reports that a U.S. strike had killed veteran Algerian Islamist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, in a statement published on Twitter.

Libya’s government said on Sunday that Mokhtar, blamed for a deadly assault on an Algerian gas field and a major figure in insurgencies across North Africa, had died alongside other militant leaders.

But a statement on the Twitter account of the Ansar al Sharia militant group had a list of seven people it said had died in the attack that did not include a name resembling Belmokhtar‘s.

“While we eulogize these heroes ... we deny the killing of any other personalities besides those whom we have named who are sons of this land (Libya),” the statement added.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the statement.

U.S. officials have not confirmed the reports that Belmokhtar was killed in eastern Libya, saying on Monday that the F-15 jet raid appeared to have succeeded but stopping short of commenting on his demise.

Reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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