ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — An Algerian newspaper says the right-hand man to the head of al-Qaida's North African branch was one of seven insurgents killed by the army last week.

El Watan reported Saturday that the New Year's Day operation killed Izza Rezki, the finance chief for Abdelmalek Droukdel, the head of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The paper cited anonymous security sources.

Algerian authorities did not comment the report.

The Algerian Defense Ministry announced the operation Tuesday but only identified those killed as members of a terrorist group.

Such government statements are rare in Algeria's long battle with AQIM, underscoring the importance of the operation. AQIM is headquartered in Algeria, but noted mainly for its reach in Africa's Sahel region with kidnappings of Westerners and its takeover of parts of northern Mali.

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