At least 6 Tunisian police killed in attack near Algeria border
At least six members of Tunisia's national guard were killed in an apparent terror attack in a small town near the border with Algeria on Sunday, the Interior Ministry has confirmed.
A national guard border patrol in the Ain Sultan area of the Jenduba border province "was hit in a landmine ambush that killed six agents", the ministry said.
It said the attack took place at 11:45 am (1045 GMT).
Ministry spokesman General Sufyan al-Zaq said the blast was a "terrorist attack" and that assailants had "opened fire on security forces" after the mine exploded.
Read more: Tourism beats terrorism: Holidaymakers return to Tunisia
An explosion was heard at the scene along with heavy gunfire, he added.
A security source quoted in the Tunisian media also said that nine were killed.
The officers were reportedly patrolling the town in two cars when they were ambushed by grenades and gunfire.
Security and military reinforcements arrived quickly at the scene to track down the assailants, however they had since fled.
Sources believe a terrorist groups had been holed up near Ghardimaou for years and its members were known to the authorities. The National Guard became aware last February of the militants and began monitoring them by way of doing patrols in the area.
At that time, a statement issued by the Interior Ministry said that the National Guard had identified several militants in the area, who had since fled towards the mountains.
According to the Tunisian Interior Ministry, convicted terrorists who were under house arrest were communicating with those hiding out in the mountains and giving them logistical support to carry out further attacks.
The attack, for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility, comes as Tunisia prepares for the summer tourist season.
Since its 2011 revolution, extremist attacks in Tunisia have killed dozens of members of the security forces and 59 foreign tourists.
The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015 when a suicide bombing in Tunis claimed by the Islamic State group killed 12 presidential guards.
Agencies contributed to this report.