France says it can confirm with certainty that Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, a top commander in al-Qaida's North African branch, was killed in Mali last month.
The office of French President Francois Hollande issued a statement Saturday confirming Abou Zeid's death in an offensive by French troops in northern Mali's Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.
French officials reported weeks ago that Abou Zeid was "probably" dead but were waiting for DNA tests to verify.
Earlier this month, the nation of Chad had said its troops in northern Mali had killed Abou Zeid, a leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb linked to the kidnapping and killing of at least two Westerners.
France began its campaign in Mali on January 11, as al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants who controlled the north began moving toward the capital, Bamako. President Hollande has said France plans to begin pulling its troops out of northern Mali in April.
Analysts warn a French withdrawal could leave northern Mali vulnerable to a renewed militant takeover. The Malian army was unable to fight the militants on its own, and a multi-nation African force being assembled needs more training and equipment to protect Malian towns.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.