ALGIERS - Algerian forces shot dead a close aide to Abdelmalek Droukdel, the head of Al-Qaeda's African offshoot, in an ambush east of Algiers, newspapers reported Monday.
Izza Rezki, also known as Abou Djaffar, killed Friday according to the reports, was described by the Liberte newspaper as the chief financial backer of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group which claimed responsibility for the recent kidnap of seven people in Niger.
Rezki and another man described as a member of the terror organisation died in the ambush in the suburbs of Boumerdes, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Algiers, when they refused to surrender to security forces, the report said.
Abou Djaffar, in his 40s, joined an Algerian rebel group in 1994 that was later reborn as AQIM and was given the job of organising the rebels in the east of the country, the reports added.
The killings were the latest setback for AQIM, according to the reports, which said Algerian government forces had killed five leading terrorists in the region over the past two weeks.
AQIM leader Droukdel announced last week that France had to deal directly with Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden to secure the release of the hostages including five French who were captured in a uranium mining town in northern Niger in September.