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France says one of two hostages held in Mali probably dead

PARIS (Reuters) - A French man kidnapped two years ago in Mali by an al Qaeda-linked group is probably dead, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday after the insurgents said they had killed him. Gilberto Rodriguez-Leal, who would be 62 now, was captured in November 2012 while camping in the region. He had crossed from Mauritania into Mali where Islamist militants had taken advantage of chaos after a coup to seize the northern two thirds of the country.

Militants kill 11 Algerian soldiers in ambush

By Lamine Chikhi ALGIERS (Reuters) - Islamic militants killed at least 11 Algerian soldiers in an ambush on a patrol in mountains east of the capital Algiers, a security source said on Sunday, in one of the deadliest attacks on the military in years. The troops were searching for militants in the Tizi Ouzou region, 120 km (75 miles) east of Algiers, when they were attacked by fighters from al Qaeda's north African branch, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the source told Reuters.

Algerian women remember their civil war dead

Several dozen Algerians marked International Women's Day Saturday with a demonstration in Algiers to remember hundreds of women killed by Islamists in the 1990s. The families of people who disappeared during the civil war that rocked the North African country held a separate protest to demand the truth about what had happened to their loved ones. "No to forgetting all the women killed" during the 1992-2002 civil war, rights activist Dr Fadhela Chitour told AFP.

Algerian army kills three Islamists in east

The Algerian army killed three Islamist militants Sunday during an operation in a mountainous area of the eastern Kabylie region, the defence ministry said. Their deaths bring to five the number of Islamists killed since Tuesday in Kabylie, a bastion of armed groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The ministry said troops seized weapons and ammunition and destroyed hideouts used by the militants in the Sidi Ali Bounab region during Sunday's operation.

France to conduct autopsies on monks beheaded in Algeria

A French judge has got the green light from Algeria to conduct autopsies on the skulls of seven French monks who were abducted in 1996 and beheaded there, a lawyer said Thursday. Anti-terror judge Marc Trevidic however did not get permission to hear testimony from witnesses during his next visit to Algeria, said Patrick Baudoin, a lawyer for the families of the monks. The hearings and the autopsies on the skulls of the monks are the key points of a formal request addressed in December 2011 to Algeria, seeking judicial assistance over the case.

French troops in Mali kill wanted jihadist's deputy: security sources

The French army has killed the second-in-command of wanted Algerian jihadist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar in an operation in northern Mali, security sources told AFP on Wednesday. Hacene Ould Khalil, who went by the nom de guerre Jouleibib, was killed last week in the Tessalit region, said a regional security source who told AFP the Mauritanian national was Belmokhtar's "genuine right-hand man".

French Mali hostage was 'shot in the head'

French hostage Philippe Verdon, who was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali in 2011 and found dead several weeks ago, was executed with a shot to the head, prosecutors said Thursday. "After the return of the body to France, the autopsy... was able to establish that Philippe Verdon was murdered by being shot in the head," the Paris prosecutors' office said. ef/mm/mbx/ric

Mali Islamists offer freedom deal for Algerian hostages

A West African Al-Qaeda-linked militant group on Sunday offered to free one of a group of Algerian diplomats kidnapped last year in exchange for the release of three "mujahedeen" held in Algeria. The Mali-based Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) said in a statement it was asking the Algerian government "for the release of one of its diplomat hostages, to release three mujahedeen" detained on Algerian territory.

Algerian army kills seven militants in al Qaeda stronghold

ALGIERS (Reuters) - The Algerian army killed seven Islamist militants in their stronghold east of Algiers, the defense ministry said on Wednesday, as government forces stepped up operations against suspected al Qaeda-linked fighters. It was the largest government offensive against militants since an audacious assault on a desert gas plant in January in which 37 foreigners died.

Algeria court sentences two Islamists to death

Two Islamists accused of killing 500 people during Algeria's civil war, including the rape and murder of 60 women, were sentenced to death on Sunday, an AFP correspondent said. The judge sentenced Djilali Kouri, 32, and Antar Ali, 35, to death for "founding and running a terrorist group that killed and spread terror among the population and that murdered hundreds of civilians and soldiers" between 1996 and 2004. Kouri and Ali admitted having killed members of the security forces in the civil war, but denied raping and killing civilians.
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