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France says it killed ISIS Africa leader in 'decisive blow against this terrorist group'

French President Emmanuel Macron said late Wednesday that the French forces have "neutralized" the leader of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, in "a major success" after eight years of fighting terrorism in Africa's Sahel region. He did not provide any details, including where al-Sahrawi was killed or how, though ISIS's Sahara affiliate is active in the border area of Mali and Niger. French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted that "this is a decisive blow against this terrorist group."

The death of al-Sahrawi has been rumored for weeks in Mali, though France did not say how it verified his death and there has been no independent confirmation, The Associated Press reports. Al-Sahrawi, a leader in the Malian Islamist group MUJAO, switched allegiance from al Qaeda to ISIS in 2015. He claimed responsibility for a 2017 attack in Niger that killed four U.S. service members and four Niger military personnel, and ISIS-Sahel is believed to still have American Jeffrey Woodke as a hostage.