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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.

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.

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.

Trial of Algeria Islamists for civil war murders opens

The trial of two Algerian Islamists accused of killing 500 people, including the rape and murder of 60 women, during the country's brutal civil war, opened in Algiers Sunday, an AFP correspondent said. Antar Ali and Djilali Kouri have admitted to investigators they joined a group of Islamist fighters in the Chlef region, west of the capital Algiers, in 1997 during the country's civil war.

Qaeda replaces North Africa chief slain in Mali: Algeria TV

Al-Qaeda has named a replacement for Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, a key commander of its North African branch who was killed in fighting with French-led forces in northern Mali, Algerian TV reported on Sunday. The appointment of Djamel Okacha, a 34-year-old Algerian also known as Yahia Aboul Hammam, still has to be approved by a meeting of the leadership of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the head of Algeria's Ennahar TV, Mohamed Mokkedem, told AFP. Okacha is a close aide of AQIM chief Abdelmalek Droukdel and considered the "real leader" of the group, Mokkedem added.

Paris confirms death of African Al-Qaeda leader Abou Zeid

France confirmed Saturday that one of the key leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, had been killed in fighting with French-led forces in northern Mali. Considered one of the most radical leaders in Al-Qaeda's north African branch, the 46-year-old is credited with having significantly expanded the terrorist group's field of operation to Tunisia and Niger, and for kidnapping activities across the region.

'Uncatchable' Algerian jihadi mastermind Belmokhtar

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed Islamist who masterminded a brazen attack on an Algerian gas field, was branded "the Uncatchable" but the desert fox has now reportedly been killed in northern Mali. Chad said its troops killed the Al-Qaeda veteran on Saturday during an operation in the Ifogha mountains, where French-led forces have been hunting Islamist fighters who occupied northern Mali for 10 months.

Chad claims killed mastermind of Algerian gas plant bloodbath

Chad said its troops in northern Mali on Saturday killed the one-eyed Islamist leader who masterminded an assault on an Algerian gas plant that left 37 foreign hostages dead in January. The Chadian army, whose troops have been at the forefront of the hunt for Al Qaeda-linked fighters hiding in northern Mali, said Mokhtar Belmokhtar was killed during an operation in the Ifogha mountains.
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