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Military

US Airstrike Targets Top Al-Qaida Terrorist in Libya

by VOA News June 14, 2015

The U.S. military says it launched an airstrike against a top al-Qaida linked terrorist in Libya wanted for a deadly 2013 attack on a gas plant in Algeria.

Libya's internationally recognized government says the airstrike killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar Saturday in the eastern part of the country.

But the Pentagon cannot yet confirm if Belmokhtar is dead. Spokesman Colonel Steve Warren gave no other details on the operation other than to say military officials believe the airstrike was successful. He did not say where the strike took place and if an unmanned drone firing a missile was used.

The U.S. State Department had posted a $5 million reward for Belmokhtar, leader of a group calling itself the Signed in Blood Battalion.

U.S. officials accuse him of leading the 2013 terrorist attack on a gas facility in Algeria that killed 37 people, including three Americans.

The political chaos in Libya - where Islamic militants and an internationally recognized parliament have set up two separate governments - has allowed al-Qaida to grab territory.

Libya has descended into chaos since a NATO-backed revolt unseated longtime authoritarian leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Jihadist groups have exploited the lawlessness, which also has prompted a huge influx of migrants trying to make the dangerous crossing to Europe, with shipwrecks leaving hundreds dead and the EU straining to respond.

Washington has deployed drones to strike targets in the region before.



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