Algeria kills leading Islamic militant

Special to World
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

CAIRO —Algeria has reported the first significant achievement in its campaign to target Islamic insurgency leaders.

Algerian security sources said the military killed a leader of the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call. The group, led by Hassan Khatib, is regarded as the most powerful of the insurgency groups in Algeria and was said to have killed 49 soldiers in two ambushes a month ago.

The sources said a military force killed Mohammed Lunis, responsible for international relations for the Salafist group. Lunis, known by his nomme de guerre, Yusef Abu Basir, was said to have been the Salafist liasion with Al Qaida and helped obtain funds for weapons and logistics from Islamic supporters in Germany.

Lunis, 31, was killed in a military search-and-destroy operation about 50 kilometers east of Algiers. The operation, composed of troops and armored vehicles, took place on early Sunday and was the result of intelligence information that a Salafist force was in the area.

This is the first time Algeria's military killed a leading Salafist since 1999. Algeria's military has been searching for Khattab and key aides for the last year.

Lunis joined the Islamic insurgency war against Algiers in 1993, months after the regime cancelled national elections. In 1998, Lunis moved from the Armed Islamic Group to the Salafist organization.

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