Like a cat with nine lives, militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar – dubbed “the uncatchable” – has been reported dead at least three times in recent years. Official confirmation of the latest reports of his “killing” is yet to come from the US, but how exactly do governments and their militaries go about verifying militant IDs after the kill?

Tobias Borck, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (Rusi), says verification of a kill depends on the type of operation carried out in the first place.

He contrasts the air strikes targeting Mokhtar Belmokhtar to the operation carried out by US special forces to kill Osama Bin Laden four years ago.

“One was killed from the air, the other was killed by soldiers going in in person. The latter is obviously much easier for identification purposes,” Mr Borck says.

Bin Laden was shot in a night-time raid at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011. His body was transported to a ship for DNA tests before being dropped into the Arabian Sea.

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