PARIS – France's top military man says it is "probable" that Abou Zeid, an al-Qaida leader in North Africa, was killed in military operations by French and Chadian forces in northern Mali.
However, Admiral Edouard Guillaud, the head of France's joint chiefs of staff, also said Chadian claims that their forces had killed Zeid, who is the Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb faction leader, could not be confirmed because "we haven't recovered the body."
Speaking Monday on Europe-1 radio, Guillaud also noted unverified chatter on Internet jihadist forums saying the suspected mastermind of Algerian hostage taking in January, Mokhtar Belmoktar, was alive. A Chadian military chief claimed he, too, was killed.
Guillaud said the French military operation to support Mali's government fight against the rebels is "breaking the kidneys" of AQIM.