Two jihadist leaders killed in Mali, says France

This file picture dated on January 2, 2015 shows French helicopters stationed at a base in Goa, 320 km east southeast of Timbuktu, as part of the Barkhane Operation Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hundreds of French troops are in the region as part of a counter-terrorism operation

French special forces have killed four jihadists, including two leaders, in a raid in north Mali, the French defence ministry says.

One of those killed was Amada Ag Hama, suspected of the kidnapping and murder of two French journalists in 2013.

He is said to be a commander of in al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

France sent troops into Mali two years ago when Islamist militants threatened the capital Bamako. Some 3,000 remain in the region combating terrorism.

The other leader killed was named as Ibrahim Ag Inawalen, from another al-Qaeda linked militant group, Ansar Dine.

Aside from the murders of Radio France International journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, Amada Ag Hama was also said to be involved in the death of aid worker Michel Germaneau and the abduction of four French nationals in Niger, both in 2010.

"France has a long memory," said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Mali suffered a coup in 2012. In the chaos that followed, Tuareg rebels seized control of the north, declaring independence, before being supplanted by Islamist militants.

Instability remains, despite the French intervention and the presence of the 11,000-strong UN peacekeeping force known as Minusma.

On Wednesday, an attacker opened fire on a UN residence in Bamako, injuring a guard.

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