Libya’s recognised government said at the weekend that strikes had killed the man the US charged two years ago with the attack on the gas facility in January 2013 that left dozens of foreign and Algerian workers and 29 militants dead.
“The Libyan government in the east of Libya confirms that the US fighter jets conducted air strikes last night in a mission which resulted in the death of the terrorist Belmokhtar,” numerous media outlets quoted a Libyan government spokesman as saying.
The US military confirmed that air strikes had targeted Belmokhtar, but they were unable to confirm if he had been killed.
The Algerian national and one-time commander of al-Qaeda’s North African operations, who was nicknamed The Uncatchable by French forces, has, however, been falsely reported to have been killed before.
In March 2013, less than two months after the In Amenas assault, he was reported to have been killed in Mali when Chadian forces attacked and destroyed a jihadist base.
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 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, broke away years ago and formed his own splinter group called The Signed in Blood Brigade.