23 December 2014
Last updated at 11:26
Herve Gourdel was a French tourist who was killed by a group proclaiming allegiance to Islamic State
Algerian special forces have killed the leader of the militant group that beheaded French tourist Herve Gourdel, according to a local TV news network.
Abdelmalek Gouri, the head of Jund al-Khilafa, was killed in clashes in the Sidi Daoud area, about 80 km (50 miles) from Algiers, Ennahar TV reported.
Jund al-Khilafa is aligned with the Islamic State group (IS), which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria.
It killed Mr Gourdel, 55, following French air strikes in Iraq.
Mr Gouri was killed along with two other members of Jund al-Khilafa (Soldiers of the Caliphate), Ennahar TV quoted unnamed security forces as saying.
There has been no independent confirmation of the report.
On Saturday, the army said three militants had been killed near Sidi Daoud, including a “dangerous criminal” wanted since 1995, AFP news agency reports, when the hunt for Mr Gouri was launched.
Algeria’s military has been battling militants hiding in mountainous areas of the country for several years
Last month, Algeria’s Justice Minister Tayeb Louh said one of the militants responsible for beheading Mr Gourdel in September had been killed, but did not give details.
Mr Gourdel, who was from Nice, was kidnapped after the militants stopped his vehicle in a remote area east of Algiers where he had intended to go hiking.
French President Francois Hollande condemned the killing as a “cruel and cowardly” act, and said that French air strikes, which began on IS targets in Iraq earlier in September, would continue.
Jund al-Khilafa pledged allegiance to IS on 14 September.
Until then it had been known as part of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which grew out of an Algerian militant group and is now active across North and parts of West Africa.
Who are Jund al-Khilafa?
- Previously part of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which grew out of Algerian Islamist groups involved in 1990s civil war
- Carried out numerous attacks in Kabylie region – in April, ambushed an army convoy, leaving 11 soldiers dead
- Many residents have fled the region’s forests and mountains in recent years because of insecurity
- Group said to be led by Abdelmalek Gouri, known as Khaled Abou Slimane, 37
- On 14 September, pledged allegiance to Islamic State