An image grab released by Jund al-Khilafa, or “Soldiers of the Caliphate” shows Frenchman Herve Gourdel, 55, kneeling on the ground with his hands tied behind his back. He was later beheaded. An Algerian television network reported on Tuesday that the army has killed the head of the Jund al-Khilafa jihadist group behind the beheading the Frenchman. FILE PHOTO | AFP
An Algerian television network reported on Tuesday that the army has killed the head of the Jund al-Khilafa jihadist group behind the beheading of a Frenchman in September.
Abdelmalek Gouri, whose group has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) organisation that has overrun large parts of Iraq and Syria, was killed in Sidi Daoud, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Algiers, Nahar TV said.
The army killed two other members of Jund al-Khilafa in the same operation, the channel said.
The security services confirmed Gouri's identity, according to the report, which could not be immediately confirmed.
On Saturday, the army said it killed three Islamist gunmen in a mountainous area near Sidi Daoud, and that one of them was a "dangerous criminal" wanted since 1995, when the hunt for Gouri was launched.
Soldiers seized a large quantity of guns, ammunition and explosives during the operation.
On December 11, Algerian Justice Minister Tayeb Louh announced that soldiers had killed two members of Jund al-Khilafa implicated in the murder of French mountain guide Herve Gourdel.
Gourdel, 55, was kidnapped in September and later beheaded by the group that was formed at the end of August after splintering from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and pledging allegiance to IS.
Violence involving armed Islamists has fallen considerably since the civil war of the 1990s, but groups linked to AQIM continue to launch attacks in the northeast, mostly on security forces.