ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algerian security forces killed a senior member of Al Qaeda’s north African wing after a tip-off from a former militant led them to his hideout, an Algerian newspaper reported Sunday.
Mourad Bouzid, 65, also known as Ami Slimane, was a charismatic figure instrumental in recruiting and motivating younger Al Qaeda fighters, daily Ennahar reported, citing an unnamed source.
He was hiding in the town of Issers, 55 km (34 miles) east of the capital Algiers, and was found with the help of local residents, said the paper which specializes in security matters.
It said Bouzid was tracked down using information from Ali Ben Touati, also known as Abou Tamine, another top Maghreb Qaeda figure who surrendered in late January to take advantage of a government amnesty offered to rebels who disarm.
Al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) is the remnant of a much broader insurgency that shook Algeria in the 1990s and left an estimated 150,000 people dead.
The conflict has largely subsided after the government offered successive amnesties to rebels under a national reconciliation drive.
But a hard core of several hundred militants adopted the Qaeda name two years ago and carried out a campaign of deadly urban bombings from their stronghold in the mountainous Kabylie region east of Algiers.
After months of relative calm, two roadside bombs killed seven people near Algeria’s border with Tunisia Thursday, just hours after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said he would stand for a third term in office.