PARIS, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- French troops killed one of the leading jihadists of the Sahel region in Africa last month, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said late Tuesday.
"On Oct. 9, France eliminated the number two of Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (the Group to Support Islam and Muslims)," Parly wrote on her Twitter account.
"Ali Maychou, religious leader, recruiter and mastermind of several attacks, was a hatemonger," she tweeted.
Maychou was killed in northern Mali's Timbuktu region with the help of Malian troops and U.S. support, local media quoted Parly's words aboard a government plane as saying.
"This is a neutralization of a very influential person. It is very important to disorganize these movements in depth. It is necessary to continue this counter-terrorism work," Parly said in the plane that brought her back from a tour in several countries of the Sahel region.
Maychou is the second key figure of the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) killed this year after French troops killed jihadist veteran Djamel Okacha in February.
The GSIM, an umbrella group for al-Qaida-linked insurgents in West Africa's Sahara, was behind several fatal attacks in the region, including one in early October which killed 40 Malian officers.