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Malian fugitive Cheibani recaptured by French troops

A Malian man who escaped from prison in Niger where he was serving a sentence for killing four Saudi tourists, and allegedly assassinated a US diplomat has been recaptured, officials say.

French soldiers arrested Alhassane Ould Mohamed, also known as “Cheibani”, in northern Mali on Tuesday.

He was among 22 prisoners who escaped from jail in June during an attack by suspected Islamist militants.

Following the mass breakout, the US unsealed an indictment for his arrest.

It said he was wanted for the murder of US diplomat William Bultemeier who was shot in Niger’s capital, Niamey, as he left a restaurant with colleagues in December 2000.

A reward of $20,000 (£12,235) was also announced in September for information leading to his capture.

He was serving a 20-year sentence in Niger for the murder of four Saudi citizens who were travelling with a Saudi prince on a hunting trip in 2009.

Mali’s chief prosecutor Daniel Tessougue said that Cheibani, sometimes also called Cheibane Ould Hama, was arrested with three other people, the Associated Press news agency reports.

According to the Reuters news agency, Niger’s Justice Minister Marou Mohamed said Cheibani was captured in a hideout between the towns of Gao and Kidal following a tip-off from Niger security officials.

French forces, along with troops from West Africa, helped oust al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb militants and their allies from northern Mali earlier this year.

They had occupied the vast desert area in the wake of the chaos that followed a coup in March 2012.