Africa

Algeria kills jihadist over death of French hostage Gourdel

An undated photo of Herve Gourdel taken in the Nice area of southern France Image copyright AFP
Image caption An undated photo of Herve Gourdel taken in the Nice area of southern France

The Algerian army has killed one of the militants responsible for the beheading of a French hiker in September, the country's justice minister says.

Tayeb Louh made the announcement on Wednesday after an investigation into the murder of hostage Herve Gourdel.

The unnamed jihadist was killed in an anti-terrorist operation in October.

Jund al-Khilafa, an Islamist militant organisation allied to Islamic State (IS), killed Mr Gourdel in September following French air strikes in Iraq.

Mr Gourdel, 55, was from Nice, and was kidnapped after the militants stopped his vehicle in a remote area east of Algiers where he had intended to go hiking.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Kabylie region is a rugged and mountainous area of Algeria

In a video released by the jihadists, they announced his death after an ultimatum issued to the French government to cease its airstrikes against IS militants in Iraq.

French President Francois Hollande condemned the killing as a "cruel and cowardly" act, and said that French air strikes, which began on IS targets in Iraq earlier in September, would continue.

Jund al-Khilafa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) pledged allegiance to IS on 14 September.

Until then it had been known as part of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which grew out of an Algerian militant group and is now active across North and parts of West Africa.


Who are Jund al-Khilafa?

  • Previously part of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which grew out of Algerian Islamist groups involved in 1990s civil war
  • Carried out numerous attacks in Kabylie region - in April, ambushed an army convoy, leaving 11 soldiers dead
  • Many residents have fled the region's forests and mountains in recent years because of insecurity
  • Group said to be led by Abdelmalek Gouri, known as Khaled Abou Slimane, 37
  • On 14 September, pledged allegiance to Islamic State

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