Key al-Qaeda militant Boualem Bekai killed in Algeria

Map showing Tizi Ouzou

Algerian troops say they have killed a key al-Qaeda militant during an ambush in the north of the country.

Boualem Bekai, also known as Khaled al-Mig, died on Friday near Tizi Ouzou in the mountainous Kabylie region.

His identity was confirmed on Sunday by his family, who collected his body from a hospital in the city, security officials said.

Bekai was reportedly the number two in al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), which was formed in 2007.

'Big blow'

It evolved from the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, itself a fundamentalist organisation.

The BBC's regional analyst Shaimaa Khalil said Bekai's death would be a "big blow" for al-Qaeda in the area.

The 45-year-old became an Islamist militant in the early 1990s during a conflict between the Algerian government and Islamist rebel groups.

Aqim, led by Abdelmalek Droukdel, has carried out several attacks against major government targets.

The latest was in 2011 when the group killed 14 soldiers at an Algerian military barracks.

In 2007, it claimed responsibility for three suicide bombings at a government office, a police station and the national military police headquarters in which 20 people died.