U.S. airstrike targets al-Qaeda militant in Libya

   < < Go Back
from USAToday,

The U.S. launched airstrikes in eastern Libya targeting a terrorist leader who was behind a 2013 attack on a gas plant in Algeria that killed at least 38 hostages, including three Americans, the Pentagon said Sunday.

The airstrikes against veteran Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar were carried out by U.S. aircraft Saturday, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Libyan government said the strikes were successful and killed Belmokhtar and several others in Ajdabiya, according to the Associated Press.

An Islamist with ties to extremists, however, claims the strikes missed Belmokhtar who was not at the site that was targeted, and instead killed four militants, the AP reported.

“Belmokhtar has a long history of leading terrorist activities,” Warren said in a statement Sunday. He said Belmokhtar “maintains his personal allegiance” to al-Qaeda and “poses a continuing threat to U.S. persons.”

Two F-15 fighters launched multiple 500-pound bombs in the attack, an unnamed Pentagon official told the AP.

Federal law enforcement officials charged Belmokhtar, an Algerian national, with terrorism after the 2013 Algerian attack, including conspiring to support al-Qaeda, the use of a weapon of mass destruction, conspiring to take hostages and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Those charges are punishable by death.

More From USA Today: