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Website says al-Qaida's North Africa branch replaces commanders killed in northern Mali

A Mauritanian news agency says al-Qaida's North Africa branch has chosen replacements for two deceased commanders, including the former head of one of its most violent brigades who was killed in northern Mali in February.

The ANI website, which has previously been used as a publicity tool by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, reported Monday that "knowledgeable sources" had said Algerian Saeed Abu Muqatil would replace Abou Zeid, one of two main al-Qaida commanders operating in northern Mali before France's military intervention earlier this year.

The website also said Mauritanian Aderrahmane would replace Muhammad al-Ameen Ould al-Hasan, who was also killed during the intervention. Aderrahmane was involved in controlling the city of Timbuktu after northern Mali fell to Islamic extremists following a March 2012 military coup.