PARIS – France's foreign minister says DNA tests are under way to identify militant leaders killed in Mali.
In recent days, Chad, which is fighting alongside France in northern Mali, has claimed that two major leaders are dead: Abou Zeid, head of one of the most violent brigades of al-Qaida's North African franchise, and the al-Qaida-linked Moktar Belmoktar.
French officials have declined to confirm either death, although one official said Abou Zeid was probably dead.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday on French radio: "You have to do stringent verifications with DNA, and that's what the army is in the process of doing."
French troops launched a military operation in January to drive back the extremists marching on Mali's capital. Fabius said France would begin drawing down troops in April.