Algeria’s military has killed a suspect in the abduction and beheading of Frenchman Hervé Gourdel in September, Justice Minister Tayeb Louh said on Wednesday.
“It emerges from the investigation into the murder of French national Hervé Gourdel that one of those who committed this murder, ... was killed by the army during an anti-terrorist operation in October,” Louh told state news agency APS.
Gourdel, a 55-year-old from Nice, was kidnapped after militants stopped his vehicle in remote mountains east of Algiers, where he was planned to go hiking.
The Frenchman’s kidnapping was one of the first abductions of a foreigner by militants in Algeria since the North African country ended a decade-long war with Islamist fighters in the 1990s, during which around 200,000 people were killed.
Gourdel’s abduction took place after Islamic State (IS) group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, urged the group’s followers to attack citizens of the United States, France and other countries that had joined a coalition to destroy the extremist Islamist movement.
The Jund al-Khalifa fi Ard al-Jazayer – variously translated as Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria or Caliphate Soldiers of Algeria – claimed responsibility for Gourdel’s killing, saying it was in retaliation for France’s intervention in Iraq.
A little-known group that split from al Qaeda’s North African branch, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Jund al-Khalifa announced its allegiance to the IS group in a statement released on September 13.
The leader of the group, Abdelmalek Gouri, who goes by the nom de guerre Khaled Abu Suleiman, said he had broken away from AQIM because the al Qaeda branch had “deviated from the true path”.
The IS group has itself beheaded five Westerners in Syria since August most recently US hostage Peter Kassig earlier this month saying the killings were a response to US-led air strikes in both Syria and Iraq.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-11-26