by Rachel Ogbu

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A top leader of terrorist group, al Qaeda was killed in Mali four days ago after French forces launched an assault to reclaim the land from rebels.

Abu Zeid, a chief field commander of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a group known as AQIM, and is considered one of its most ruthless operators was reportedly killed along with 40 other militants who died in the region of Tigargara in northern Mali, according to Algerian Ennahar TV.

According to reports, Zeid is suspected to have murdered British national Edwin Dyer in 2009 and 78-year-old Frenchman, Michel Germaneau, in 2010.

His group, the AQIM has made millions of dollars from ransom payments specialising in kidnapping Westerners in northern Mali

In January, after a plea from Mali’s caretaker government, France began operation to regain Mali’s vast northern desert region from AQIM and other Islamist insurgents.

The operation removed the rebels from several main towns they had occupied, driving them back into remote desert areas.

A French defence ministry official reportedly refused to comment on the report.