5 ‘terrorists’ killed in security operation near Tunisia-Libya border

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TUNIS: Tunisia’s army and security forces killed five “terrorists” in an operation near the Libyan border late Tuesday, the interior ministry said, a day after a deadly raid the government has described as an unprecedented assault by the Islamic State group.

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“As part of the continuing operation at Ben Guerdane, security forces and the army were able to eliminate five terrorists tonight in the Benniri area,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that weapons had been seized.

Local media had reported that security forces had surrounded a house where several men were holed up, information that was not confirmed in the brief ministry statement.

The swoop came a day after coordinated dawn attacks in the border town of Ben Guerdane which analysts say were a move by jihadists to spread their influence from Libya to Tunisia and set up a new stronghold in the country.

Prime Minister Habib Essid said 36 attackers were killed and seven captured in a fierce firefight Monday that also saw the deaths of seven civilians and 12 security force personnel.

Defense ministry spokesman Belhassen Oueslati said 17 other suspects were arrested on Tuesday near a military barracks and handed over to the National Guard for questioning.

Tunisian authorities had said search operations were continuing in the region on Tuesday.

A curfew from 7:00 pm until 5:00 am (1800 GMT – 0400 GMT) has been in force in Ben Guerdane since Monday.

AFP

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