ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian special forces have found the body of Herve Gourdel, a French tourist kidnapped and beheaded by Islamist militants last year while hiking in mountains east of Algiers, the Algerian government said on Thursday.
Gourdel was snatched in September by the Caliphate Soldiers, a group of militants that claimed loyalty to Islamic State insurgents fighting in Iraq and Syria. They said they executed Gourdel to punish France for its military action in Iraq.
“Using information from an arrested terrorist, the army found where the body of the Frenchman Herve Gourdel had been buried,” the ministry of defense said in a statement.
The French embassy in Algiers did not immediately respond to a request for details.
Gourdel’s killing was the first such kidnapping of a foreigner in years in the North African state. During the 1990s, villagers were massacred and civilians slaughtered in Algeria’s war with Islamist militants that killed 200,000 people.
Since Gourdel’s killing, Algerian security forces had been sweeping mountains east of Algiers looking for the militants responsible. Security forces killed Abdelmalek Gouri, leader of the Caliphate Soldiers, in an ambush in December.
Algeria remains an important U.S. ally in its fight against Islamist militancy in the Sahel region, where al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadist groups are active.
Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Editing by Patrick Markey/Mark Heinrich