IN GUEZZAM, Algeria – Algeria's prime minister says the radical Islamic State group has no presence in Algeria, despite the recent kidnapping and beheading of a French hiker.
Abdelmalek Sellal told journalists during a visit to Algeria's extreme south on Monday that North Africa "does not know of the Islamic State group, neither near nor far."
Last month Frenchman Herve Gourdel was kidnapped and beheaded by a group once linked to al-Qaida's North Africa branch but which now pledges allegiance to the Syria-based Islamic State group.
Sellal said he was visiting the remote area near the border with Niger to see how the region was developing and express support for the army guarding the borders.
The desert border region of Algeria, Niger and Mali is known haven for smugglers as well as al-Qaida-linked extremists.