BAMAKO // A spokesman for a radical Islamic group in northern Mali has confirmed that a leader of Al Qaeda's North African branch was killed in a car crash.
Sanda Abou Mohammed, a spokesman for Ansar Dine, which seized control of cities in northern Mali in April, said Nabil Makhloufi, known by his alias Nabil Al Qama, was killed in the accident near the city of Gao on yesterday.
Makhloufi, an Algerian national who is a long time member of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was appointed "emir of the Sahara" last year, controlling operations in the southern half of AQIM's territory, including Mali.
Makhloufi was close to Abou Zeid, the feared leader of one of AQIM's most violent brigades. Mr Zeid is responsible for the death of at least two European hostages, and is believed to be holding four French nationals kidnapped two years ago in Niger.