Tunisian forces fought off fierce attacks from ISIS jihadists near the Libyan border, in clashes that left at least 50 people dead, including seven civilians.
Ten members of the security forces were killed in the fighting in the border town of Ben Guerdane, which Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi condemned as an ‘unprecedented’ jihadist attack aimed at ‘establishing a new Islamic State emirate’.
The border, which has long been a key access point for jihadists entering Libya to join ISIS, has now been closed and a night curfew will be enforced.
In statements broadcast on state television, Essebsi said the assault was ‘maybe aimed at controlling’ the border region with Libya, and vowed to ‘exterminate these rats’.
It was the second deadly clash in the border area in less than a week as Tunisia battles to stop the large number of its nationals who have joined ISIS’s Libyan franchise, based in the city of Sirte.
The jihadists have taken advantage of a power vacuum since the NATO-backed overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 to set up bases in several areas of Libya, including the Sabratha area between Tripoli and the Tunisian border.
US-led airstrikes targeted an important ISIS training camp in Sabratha, where many Tunisian nationals were thought to have been learning basic weapons handling and bombmaking.
Fears remain that the jihadi group is looking to inflict another attack on westerners in Tunisia, following the Bardo museum and Sousse massacre last year.
The government said that an army barracks, police and National Guard posts in Ben Guerdane came under attack in coordinated pre-dawn assaults.
Six members of the National Guard, two policemen, a customs official and a soldier died in the fighting, the defence and interior ministries said in a joint statement.
Six wounded militants were captured, the defence ministry said.
The government said that an army barracks and police and National Guard posts in Ben Guerdane came under attack in coordinated pre-dawn assaults
Hospital official Abdelkrim Chafroud said a 12-year-old boy was among the dead civilians….
Posted by Women Against Shariah on Tuesday, March 8, 2016