ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s military has killed a militant involved in the abduction and beheading of French tourist Herve Gourdel in September, Justice Minister Tayeb Louh said on Wednesday.
The Caliphate Soldiers, a splinter group which has allied itself to Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for Gourdel’s killing, saying it was in retaliation for France’s intervention in Iraq.
“It emerges from the investigation on the assassination of French national Herve Gourdel that one of those who committed this murder, ... was killed by the army during an anti-terrorist operation in October,” he told state news agency APS.
Gourdel, a 55-year-old from Nice, was kidnapped when 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, when around 200,000 people were killed.
Gourdel’s abduction occurred after Islamic State urged the group’s followers to attack citizens of the United States, France and other countries that joined a coalition to destroy the ultra-radical Islamist movement.
The Islamic State has itself beheaded five Westerners in Syria since August — most recently U.S. hostage Peter Kassig earlier this month — saying the killings were a response to U.S.-led air strikes in both Syria and Iraq.
Reporting By Hamid Ould Ahmed; editing by Patrick Markey and Crispian Balmer