The Algerian national, also known as The Uncatchable, died when Chadian forces attacked and destroyed a jihadist base in Mali at the weekend, Chad’s armed forced claimed.
“Chadian forces in Mali completely destroyed the main jihadist base in the Adrar de Ifhogas mountains… killing several terrorists including leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar,” a statement on Chadian television read.
The claim has not been independently verified, however.
Belmokhtar claimed to have ordered the attack on the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria in mid January which left dozens of foreign and Algerian workers as well as 29 militants dead. The dead included five Statoil and four BP employees. The plant is jointly operated by the two companies and state oil company Sonatrach. Limited production has only recently resumed.
Belmokhtar was also known as The One-eyed – on account of losing an eye in battle – as well as Mr Marlboro – as he was allegedly to be heavily involved in the lucrative cigarette smuggling trade in the Sahel and wider North Africa.
He is said to have used smuggling and the extorting of ransoms to free hostages to fund terrorist activities. Affiliated with al-Qaeda for a long time, he recently broke away and formed his own splinter group called The Signed in Blood Brigade.