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(AGI) Rome, June 15 - Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the brains behind theterrorist attack on Algeria's In Amenas gas plant in 2013 and asenior figure in North Africa's smuggling ring, has reportedlybeen killed in a U.S. airstrike in Libya. The news wasannounced by the internationally recognised Libyan governmentin Tobruk, which said the strike was jointly coordinated. TheU.S. confirmed that its forces bombed a building in thecountryside south of Ajdabiya, some 160km east of Benghazi, butdid not confirm Belmokhtar's death. A Libyan Islamist extremistdenied the claims, stating that Belmokhtar was not inside thebuilding where jihadist leaders had gathered for a meeting.Libyan authorities affirmed that four senior militants from theAnsar al-Sharia group, which has recently made ties with ISIS,were killed in the airstrike on the night between Saturday andSunday. The site was badly damaged by the heavy bombardment,meaning it could take some time to verify the reports, butBelmokhtar was in fact one of the targets, the Pentagon said.Should it be confirmed, Belmokhtar's death would be a heavyblow for Qaedist groups in the region. The 43-year-old leaderof the al-Mourabitoun group was a former member of Al Qaeda inthe Islamic Maghreb and remained loyal to Al Qaeda's leader,Ayman al-Zawahiri, despite breaking off from group. Born on theedge of the Sahara in Algeria in 1972, Belmokhtar conceded aninterview in 2007, in which he which he traced his fascinationwith the jihad back to the mujahideen resistance in Afghanistanagainst the Soviet Union, and said he joined the battle in1991. His al-Mourabitoun militant group denied recent reportsof its connection with ISIS. The Tobruk-based governmentemphasised that the U.S. airstrike fell within the framework ofits own commitment against terrorism and of the internationalcommunity's efforts in the fight. It also asked for morestrikes and greater collaboration against ISIS in Libya.Jihadist militants on social media said seven men were killedin the attack. A terrorist group in Ajdabiya published picturesand names of the dead militants on Facebook on Sunday, but madeno reference to Belmokhtar. He has been labeled "TheUncatchable" due to many debunked reports of his death, thelast of which was in March of 2013 by Chadian authorities innorthern Mali. (AGI).