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Ministry: Algerian army kills 5 Islamist gunmen

Two Kalashnikov assault rifles, a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition were recovered after raid on hideout

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Algerian soldiers killed five Islamist gunmen Saturday not far from where the suspected hideout of extremists who beheaded a French hostage was destroyed two days earlier, the defence ministry said.

“A detachment of soldiers on Saturday eliminated five terrorists in the Mount Mokrani area,” a statement said.

Two Kalashnikov assault rifles, a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition were recovered, the ministry said.

On Thursday, the army announced it had destroyed a camp in the Djurdjura mountains, 150 kilometres southeast of the capital, believed to have been used by militants who beheaded 55-year-old French hiker Herve Gourdel last month.

Gourdel was kidnapped on September 21 by Jund al-Khilifa, or “Soldiers of the Caliphate,” which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militant group.

El-Watan daily on Saturday named the man suspected of murdering Gourdel as Jund al-Khilifa mufti, or religious leader, Bachir Kherza but gave no source.

Kherza, in his fifties and from Algiers, is a veteran of Islamist armed groups of the 1990s civil war in which 200,000 people died.

The army says close to 80 Islamist militants have been killed this year in Algeria.

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