Saturday 18 November 2017

Members of group responsible for French hiker beheading identified

Press Association

Some of the members of the group that kidnapped and beheaded a French hiker in Algeria have been identified, the country's justice minister said.

Tayeb Louh told state TV that the initial investigation has resulted in the identification of "certain members of the terrorist group behind the crime".

Ministry spokeswoman Amina Haddad said that the case was being handled by the Algiers Tribune and arrest warrants had been issued on charges of kidnapping, illegal detention and murder.

French mountain guide Herve Gourdel was kidnapped while hiking on Algeria's Djurdjura mountain range on September 21 by a splinter group from the Algerian branch of al Qaida pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq.

French hiker hostage Herve Gourdel beheaded in Algeria 

The group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, demanded France end its participation in US-led air strikes against IS. On Thursday, a video surfaced on social network sites showing Mr Gourdel's murder.

Algerian army and police have scoured the mountainous region where Mr Gourdel was kidnapped, searching for the group and his remains.

The group released a new video on Tuesday showing dozens of its members swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS.

Previously, most Algerian extremist groups had recognised the authority of al Qaida.

Algerian extremist groups have been largely confined to the mountainous Kabylie region focusing their attacks on local security forces.

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