World News

Mali says it confirms death of veteran jihadist leader Koufa

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali’s army said on Saturday it had confirmed the death of Amadou Koufa, one of the most prominent jihadist leaders in the country, in a raid by French forces on Thursday night.

“I confirm that Amadou Koufa was killed during the operation,” Malian army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone told Reuters. He declined to elaborate.

France’s army had said on Friday that Koufa may have been killed in the operation in the central Mopti region that “put out of action” about 30 Islamist militants.

Koufa, a radical preacher, was one of the top deputies to Iyad Ag Ghali, the leader of Mali’s most prominent jihadi group, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), which has repeatedly attacked soldiers and civilians in Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso.

Those attacks have shifted Mali’s six-year-old Islamist insurgency from the remote desert north closer to its populous south and prompted France and the United States to deploy thousands of troops across West Africa’s semi-arid region.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Hugh Lawson