Abou Zeid, al-Qaida Commander, Reportedly Killed by French Airstrikes in Mali

A high ranking al-Qaida commander is suspected to have been killed after a French airstrike killed dozens of militants in Mali.

Reports out of the African nation indicate that Abdelhamid Abou Zeid was killed around three days ago and had been al-Qaida's commander of its North African wing, also known as the Islamic Maghreb.

Mali has been the source of conflict in recent weeks after French troops arrived to assist the Malian government in expelling al-Qaida and its sympathizers in the region.

Abou Zeid was known to be a notorious hostage taker who received millions in ransoms in order to fund al-Qaida's military operations in the country.

Abou Zeid was thought to have killed British national Edwin Dyer in 2009 and 78-year-old Frenchman Michel Germaneau in 2010 during hostage situations, according to Sky News.

Abou Zeid is thought to have been killed in the region of Tigargara in Northern Mali, according to Algerian Ennahar TV, but there have been no reports from the Algerian government or the French Defense Military on whether there is confirmation that Abou Zeid was killed.

American officials say that the "reports that Mr. Abou Zeid had been killed appeared to be credible and that Washington would view his death as a serious blow to the Al Qaeda wing," according to a report in The New York Times.

Abou Zeid was born in the Algerian town of Touggourt, which is rougly 400 miles south of Algiers in the Algerian Sahara. He became as member of FIS, the Algerian Islamic party that lost an election in the early 1990s, which spurred the Algerian civil war.

He is later thought to have joined the Salafist Group where he served under Mokhtar Belmokthar, another Islamic Maghreb leader, before being promoted and becoming an al-Qaida commander.