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Algeria identifies suspects in Frenchman’s beheading

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Algerian investigators have identified suspects involved in the kidnapping and beheading of French tourist Hervé Gourdel, Algeria’s justice minister said Tuesday.

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"The preliminary investigation has identified certain members of the terrorist group that carried out this crime," Tayeb Louh said on state television.

Gourdel, a 55-year-old mountaineering guide from the southern French city of Nice, was kidnapped earlier this month by the Algerian jihadist group Jund al-Khalifa while he was hiking in the mountainous Tizi Ouzou area.

The Jund al-Khalifa fi Ard al-Jazayer – variously translated as the “Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria” or “Caliphate Soldiers of Algeria” – emerged earlier this month, when a regional commander of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a statement announcing that he had broken away from al Qaeda and had sworn loyalty to the Islamic State group (IS).

In a grisly decapitation video posted on jihadist sites last week, Jund al-Khalifa militants said they killed Gourdel because France had failed to respond to a 24-hour deadline to stop its military assault on the IS group in Iraq.

France has joined the US in carrying out airstrikes against the IS group, which has seized swaths of Iraq and Syria. On September 19, French fighter jets bombed a fuel and weapons depot outside the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The beheading of Gourdel marked the first time an IS-linked group killed a Western national outside the battle zones in Iraq and Syria.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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