French minister says Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar 'likely behind' Mali attack

Malian soldiers and international special forces stand guard at the entrance the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Habibou Kouyate) (AFP)

Paris (AFP) - France's defence minister said Friday that notorious Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar was "likely behind" a deadly attack at a luxury hotel in Mali but acknowledged it was not certain.

Jean-Yves Le Drian said several countries had long been searching for Belmokhtar, head of the jihadist group Al-Murabitoun. "He is likely behind this attack although we are not completely certain of it," the minister said, speaking on France's TF1 television.