Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, the second-in-command of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, was killed during clashes in a remote part of Mali, the BBC reported.
"Chadian forces killed two jihad leaders, including Abou Zeid," Chadian President Idriss Deby said Friday.
A U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity said Washington found reports that Abou Zeid was killed "very credible."
Chadian and French forces have been battling Islamist fighters in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains north of Kidal in recent week, the BBC said.
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]