Algeria kills ISIS-linked militant leader in army raid
ALGIERS - A militant leader who joined the Islamic State jihadist group was killed in an army operation west of the Algerian capital, a security source said Monday.
Mouloud Baal, also known as Abou El Moundhir, was a former member of the extremist Armed Islamic Front (GIA) which battled the Algiers government during the 1990s.
He later formed his own group which participated in twin suicide attacks against Algeria's Cherchell military institution in August 2011, claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Baal, who joined ISIS in 2015, was killed on Sunday during an military raid in the Oued-Sebt area of Gouraya region, west of Algiers, the source said.
The operation took place in the same area where Baal's men planted a roadside bomb two weeks ago targeting a police convoy, the source added.
The defence ministry said a "dangerous terrorist" was killed in the Oued-Sebt operation, during which a Kalashnikov assault rifle and ammunition were seized.
Meanwhile, Algeria's top military chief has heightened the army's state of alert over border security because of concerns over arms trafficking and turmoil in neighbouring Libya, where Islamic State has gained ground.
Chief of staff and deputy defence minister Ahmed Gaed Salah visited southeast Algeria, close to Libya's border, on Sunday, days after the army killed three Islamist militants in an ambush and seized an arsenal including stinger missiles.
Algeria, Africa's largest country with over 1,000 km (600 miles) of border with Libya, has been warning about potential for violence to spill over from its neighbour which has sunk into turmoil since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
To Algeria's south, Islamist militants have expanded their attacks recently to parts of Mali and beyond.
"What our region is living in terms of disorder and an unprecedented worsening of the security situation could have unfavourable outcomes on security and stability," the commander said, according to APS state new agency. "We need to be more vigilant."
Algeria has already increased its military presence along the borders with more troops and using drones for surveillance, according to local press reports.
Algeria, steadily emerging itself from more than a decade of conflict with armed Islamist fighters in the 1990s, is a key Western ally against militancy in the region.
Violence and attacks in Algeria are rarer, though al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Islamic State affiliates are still active in pockets of the country especially in the remote south and the mountains to the east of Algiers.