US lawmaker hails reported killing of Belmokhtar

US Republican Representative Ed Royce, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on Saturday hailed the reported killing of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the self-proclaimed mastermind of an assault on an Algerian gas in January.

"One of the most elusive and deadly terrorists in North Africa has been reportedly killed," Royce said in a statement without confirming the warlord's alleged death.

"This would be a hard blow to the collection of jihadists operating across the region that are targeting American diplomats and energy workers," the US lawmaker added.

The Chadian army, whose troops have been at the forefront of the hunt for Al Qaeda-linked fighters hiding in northern Mali, said Belmokhtar was killed during an operation in the Ifogha mountains.

In January, Belmokhtar claimed the attack on the In Amenas gas plant in southern Algeria.

The raid ended in a bloodbath, with 38 hostages killed by the time an Algerian operation ended the crisis.

Among the victims were 37 foreigners, from Britain, Norway, Japan and other nations.