Kidnapped Algerian teenager found dead

2012-10-25 15:14

Algiers - The 19-year-old son of a businessman kidnapped in Algeria's restive Kabylie region this month has been found strangled to death, newspapers reported on Thursday.

The body of Ghilas Hadjou was found buried near a beach in Tizi Ouzou, the main city in the eastern region where militants linked to al-Qaeda are active, the reports said.

The body, which was found on Wednesday evening, bore signs of strangulation, they added.

Hadjou, the son of a businessman from the coastal town of Azeffoun northeast of Tizi Ouzou, was abducted on 18 October by armed men on a road linking Azeffoun to his village of Mellata.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), which stems from a group started in the late 1990s by radical Algerian Islamists, is active in Kabylie where some 70 people have been kidnapped since 2005.

According to reports, most of the hostages have since been freed in return for ransom payments, although this has never been confirmed by the authorities.

At the end of last year, the security forces dismantled a gang of criminals linked to abductions in Kabylie, whose members claimed to be Aqim militants who had set up checkpoints near Azeffoun to nab victims.

On Monday, the trial opened in Tizi Ouzou of 12 suspected Aqim militants accused of three kidnappings as well as the murder in 2010 of a businessmen during a failed abduction.

The prosecutor has demanded the death penalty for 10 of the 12 defendants.