Qaeda Maghreb wing denies Algerian businessman killing
Al Qaeda’s North African wing denied responsibility for the kidnapping and death of a local businessman in Algeria a week ago and accused the government of orchestrating the killing, the group said on Tuesday.
Local media said a group of insurgents suspected to belong to al Qaeda tried to abduct businessman Hand Slimana on Nov. 14. He was shot trying to escape and later died from his wounds. The kidnappers took a second man hostage, but let him go on Sunday, reports had said.
About 2,500 people demonstrated in the remote Algerian town of Freha on Monday to demand that security forces do more to protect them from al Qaeda-linked militants who use the area as a stronghold.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) offered condolences to the businessman’s family in a statement posted on a website used by the group, and said was innocent with no link to the operation, accusing the local media of misguiding the public.
“We confirm that the first and last enemy of our tribal enemies is the criminal Algerian regime and not the jihadists,” AQIM said, adding that the group saw itself as one with Muslim tribes.
“It is very likely the apostates through their intelligence system had planned this operation indirectly as part of an ongoing devilish plan to recruit our Muslim brothers in the tribal region against their brothers the Mujahedeen,” AQIM said.
AQIM urged the family of the deceased to continue investigating the killing to reveal the “real criminals”.
Energy exporter Algeria has for two decades been fighting an Islamist insurgency which at its peak in the 1990s killed an estimated 200,000 people. The violence has subsided in the past few years, though ambushes and attacks still happen.
Freha is located in the mountainous Kabylie region, where militants regularly attack security forces and kidnap local people for ransom.