One of Mali's top jihadist leaders Amadou Koufa has died after a raid led by French soldiers in the centre of the troubled country, Malian and French authorities confirmed on Saturday.
Koufa, a radical preacher surfaced three years ago and was blamed for several violent attacks and for stoking sectarian conflict.
We "confirm the death of the jihadist Amadou Koufa in the Wagadou forest," General Abdoulaye Cisse said. "He died of his injuries."
"After the military operation the terrorist Koufa was seriously injured and taken away by his supporters before he died," another military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Koufa was one of the top deputies to Iyad Ag Ghali, the leader of the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which has repeatedly struck military and civilian targets in Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso.
The French army said the overnight Thursday/Friday operation targeted a base controlled by Koufa and added that about 30 "terrorists were neutralised," without specifying whether they were all dead.
Koufa had repeatedly exhorted Muslims to wage violent jihad.
France helped Malian forces stave off a militant insurgency that took control of large parts of the north in 2012, but large swathes of the country remain out of the government's control.
The former colonial ruler has deployed the 4,500-member Barkhane force in the region to repel attacks and stem insurgency.