By Yusuf Ozcan
PARIS (AA) - France has killed the chief of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelmalek Droukdel, the French defense chief said late Friday.
French armed forces, along with it partners, killed Droukdel and members of his inner circle in north Mali in an operation June 3, Florence Parly said on Twitter.
Parly said French President Emmanuel Macron and G5 Sahel countries -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- are determined to fight terrorism in the region.
Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, suffers from the presence of several militant groups, where French, Malian and UN peacekeepers are conducting counterterrorism operations.
Tensions erupted in Mali in 2012 following a failed coup and a Touareg rebellion that ultimately allowed al-Qaeda-linked militant groups to take control of the northern half of the country. In 2015, a peace deal was signed between the government and insurgent groups.
Political and community disputes continue to fuel tensions in northern Mali, thus undermining the implementation of a peace agreement.