Algeria kills jihadi leader behind Frenchman’s beheading
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Algeria kills jihadi leader behind Frenchman’s beheading

According to TV report, army catches up with Abdelmalek Gouri, whose group pledged allegiance to Islamic State

In this still image from a video published on the Internet on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, by a group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, members of the group stand behind French mountaineer Herve Gourdel just before beheading him. (photo credit: AP)
In this still image from a video published on the Internet on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, by a group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, members of the group stand behind French mountaineer Herve Gourdel just before beheading him. (photo credit: AP)

ALGIERS, Algeria — The Algerian army confirmed on Tuesday that it has killed the head of the jihadist Jund al-Khilafa group that decapitated a Frenchman in September.

The body of Abdelmalek Gouri, who claimed responsibility for the beheading of Frenchman Herve Gourdel, was identified at the end of an operation in the town of Isser “that allowed us to eliminate three terrorists,” the army said in a statement.

The army killed two other members of Jund al-Khilafa in the same operation, a report from Algeria’s Nahar TV said.

On Saturday, the army said it killed three Islamist gunmen in a mountainous area near the town of 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.

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