Herve Gourdel
Still picture of video showing killing of French hostage Herve Gourdel by Algeria's Isis-linked group Jund al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate)SITE monitoring group

Algeria has discovered the body of a French national beheaded by an Islamic State-affiliated jihadist group last year, security sources have told AFP news agency.

In September, Herve Gourdel, a 55-year-old French mountaineer, was killed by the jihadist group Jund al-Khilafa (The Caliphate Soldiers) after issuing a 24-hour ultimatum for France to cease its strikes on the group's positions in Iraq.

The hiker arrived in Algeria on Saturday 20 September and was abducted the following day while trekking in the heart of the Djurdjura National Park.

According to the sources, the Algerian army had dispatched 3,000 troops to find Gourdel's body in the northern town of Akbil where his body was eventually found without the head.

In the search operation, Algerian authorities performed excavations in the neighbouring town of Abu Youssef after information on Gourdel's whereabouts were leaked by an Islamist prisoner.

Last month, it was claimed that the country's army had killed Gouri Abdelmalek, the leader of the militant group responsible for Gourdel's kidnapping and beheading.

The kidnap and killing of Gourdel came after an IS spokesperson issued a call to arms to supporters around the world to attack Americans, Canadians and Europeans, especially the "filthy French".

The group is believed to be formed of a group of key Algerian commanders who have defected from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), in a sign of the deepening rivalry between the group and IS.