Algeria identifies some kidnappers of French hiker
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s justice minister said Tuesday that some of the members of the group that kidnapped and beheaded a French hiker have been identified.
Tayeb Louh told state TV that the initial investigation has resulted in the identification of “certain members of the terrorist group behind the crime,” without any further elaboration.
Ministry spokeswoman Amina Haddad told The Associated Press 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 Sept. 21 by a splinter group from the Algerian branch of al-Qaida pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
The group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, demanded France end its participation in U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State group. On Thursday, a video surfaced on social network sites showing Gourdel’s decapitation.
Algerian army and police have scoured the mountainous region where 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 the Islamic State group.
Previously most Algerian extremist groups had recognized the authority of al-Qaida.
Algerian extremist groups have been largely confined to the mountainous Kabylie region focusing their attacks on local security forces.
While the kidnapping has been seen as a rare crime of opportunity, it could presage attempts at new attacks on foreigners.