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Algerian Army Kills Militant Blamed for French Beheading
From the Wall Street Journal of Tue, 23 Dec 2014 08:42:24 EST
A frame from a video released by Jund al-Khilafah, an affiliate of Islamic State in September, purportedly showing French tourist Hervé Gourdel, who was later beheaded by his captors. Algeria has said the leader of the militant group was killed by the army in an ambush.
A frame from a video released by Jund al-Khilafah, an affiliate of Islamic State in September, purportedly showing French tourist Hervé Gourdel, who was later beheaded by his captors. Algeria has said the leader of the militant group was killed by the army in an ambush. European Pressphoto Agency

ALGIERS, Algeria—In a late night operation, Algeria’s army killed the leader of an Islamic State splinter group blamed for the kidnapping and beheading of a French hiker, the Ministry of Defense said Tuesday.

The militant, Abdelmalek Gouri, was killed together with two associates in the army ambush late Monday in the town of Isser near the city of Boumerdes, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Algiers, the ministry said.

Two other militants also were killed Tuesday morning nearby, the ministry said.

A local security official said the military had been tracking Gouri for a while and nearly caught him a month earlier.

“This time the intelligence services had information that he was coming to visit his parents so they set an ambush,” the officer said, on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

A group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah and vowing allegiance to Islamic State militants in Syria kidnapped French hiker Herve Gourdel in the Djurdjura mountains in September, and issued a video condemning French participation in U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq.

As Algeria scrambled to find the hostage in the mountainous region, Gourdel was beheaded on video a few days later. The group later issued other videos showing masked men carrying weapons in a forest and underscoring its allegiance to Islamic State.

The Algerian army has since carried out a massive search of the remote mountains to find the group. In October and again in December, it killed two of its members.

Gouri, a former al Qaeda commander, left those militants in September and joined Islamic State, promising new operations.

While al Qaeda is active in the deserts in the deep south of Algeria, its activities in the northern mountains are limited to occasional attacks on soldiers.



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