In a late night operation, Algerian army successfully killed the leader of an Islamic State splinter group which was blamed for the kidnapping and beheading of a French hiker, the Ministry of Defense has said.
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 in a statement. 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 before.
“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 was not authorized to speak to the media. A group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group 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 pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group.