Algerian soldiers have killed two Islamist militants including one who security sources said was a senior commander with an Islamic State-allied group that kidnapped and beheaded a French tourist two years ago.
Troops killed the two suspects, known by the names of Abu Doujana and Abderrahmane, in an ambush in Oued Zehour in Skikda region east of the capital, the defence ministry said in a statement published by APS state news agency.
A security source said Abu Doujana was a leader of Jund al Khalifa, a splinter al Qaeda group that had allied itself with Islamic State. It was blamed for beheading Frenchman Herve Gourdel in a remote mountain area in September 2014.
Bombings and attacks are rarer in Algeria since it ended its decade-long 1990s war with armed Islamists. But al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is still active and a small group tied to Islamic State also operated east of the capital.
Since Gourdel’s death, Algerian forces have carried out operations in the east to flush out the remains of the Jund al-Khalifa, or Soldiers of the Caliphate. Most of its commanders have been killed and its structure dismantled since then.