Army kills man behind beheading

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The man behind the kidnapping and beheading of a French hiker in Algeria has been killed in a military operation, officials said.

A Ministry of Defence statement said Abdelmalek Gouri was killed with two associates near the city of Boumerdes, east of the capital Algiers.

Two other militants were later killed nearby, added the statement.

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.

Mr Gourdel was beheaded on video a few days later when demands for France to end air strikes were not met.

The Algerian army carried out a massive operation to find the group behind the kidnapping and said two other members had been killed in past months.

Gouri was killed in a late-night operation in the town of Isser.

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A local security source said the military had been tracking him 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.

Herve Gourdel sits in between two masked gunmen in this file still image taken from video which was published on the Internet on September 22. Algerian militants who kidnapped the Frenchman claimed to have killed him after demanding France stop its action against militants in Iraq. Reuters

Herve Gourdel sits in between two masked gunmen in this file still image taken from video which was published on the Internet on September 22. Algerian militants who kidnapped the Frenchman claimed to have killed him after demanding France stop its action against militants in Iraq. Reuters

After the beheading of Mr Gourdel, the Jund al-Khilafah group issued videos showing masked men carrying weapons in a forest and pledging allegiance to Islamic State.

Gouri, a former al Qaida commander, split from al Qaida in September and pledged allegiance to IS, promising new operations.

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

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