Libya: US Strike Killed 'Uncatchable' Militant Leader

Mokhtar Belmokhtar masterminded gas plant attack
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2015 12:04 AM CDT
Libya: US Strike Killed 'Uncatchable' Militant Leader
Algerian soldiers and officials stand in front of the gas plant in Ain Amenas, seen in the background, during a visit organized by the Algerian authorities for news media following the 2013 attack.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – The militant leader nicknamed "Uncatchable" by the French military wasn't unkillable when US jets carried out an airstrike in eastern Libya early Sunday, according to Libya's official government. Libyan authorities say Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the alleged mastermind of a 2013 attack on an Algerian gas plant that killed dozens of foreign hostages, was killed along with a number of other terrorists in the strike, Reuters reports. The Pentagon has confirmed that the strike targeted the al-Qaeda-affiliated militant, though it says the results are still being assessed.

Belmokhtar's death has been announced several times before—including in Chad just weeks after the Algeria attack—and US officials say that unless militant websites issue a statement of mourning, it could take a long time to determine whether the strike was a success, the New York Times reports. This is the first US airstrike in Libya since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, reports the Guardian, which notes that it comes as US officials push for a peace deal in the country's civil war. Authorities didn't say where the strike took place, but a resident of Ajdabiya, around 100 miles south of Benghazi, tells Reuters that he witnessed an airstrike that appeared much more accurate than Libyan government strikes. (Read more Libya stories.)

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