France's president announced the death of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara's leader late Wednesday, calling Abu al-Walid al-Sahrawi's killing “a major success” for the French military after more than eight years fighting extremists in the Sahel.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that al Sahraoui “was neutralised by French forces” but gave no further details.
Rumours of the militant leader's death had circulated for weeks in Mali, though there had been no confirmation by authorities in the region.
It was not immediately clear where al-Sahrawi was killed, though the Islamic State group has been blamed for dozens of attacks along the border between Mali and Niger.
It was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim or to know how the remains had been identified.
The French military has been fighting Islamic extremists in the Sahel region where it was once the colonial power after intervening in northern Mali in 2013. (AP)