Tunisian security forces kill IS militants planning Ramadan attacks

Tunisian security forces kill IS militants planning Ramadan attacks
Tunisian security forces say they have killed three suspected members of an IS-affiliated group in Sidi Ali Ben Oun in the centre of the country, thwarting attacks planned for Ramadan.
2 min read
05 May, 2019
Tunisian security officers at a ceremony commemorating victims of an ISIS attack (Getty Archive)

Tunisian security forces have killed three suspected militants from an Islamic State-affiliated group in the centre of the country, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

A statement said "three of the most dangerous terrorists" from the Jund al-Khilafa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) group were "eliminated" on Saturday evening near the town of Sidi Ali Ben Oun, 230 kilometres (140 miles) southwest of Tunis.

It identified the men as Hatem ben Aid Basdouri, 40, Mohamed ben Ibrahim Basdouri, 35, and Montassar ben Khraief Ghozlani, 31.

Security forces seized weapons, ammunition, explosives and suicide vests, the authorities said.

In an earlier statement on Saturday the ministry said it also had managed to "thwart terrorist projects" planned for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins tomorrow, after arresting another suspected militant.

Tunisian security forces regularly conduct search operations in the mountainous areas near the border with Algeria to hunt down IS- and al-Qaeda-linked militants.

In March the interior ministry said security forces had shot dead three alleged Jund al-Khilafa members accused of involvement in the grisly killings of shepherds in the restive Kasserine region.

Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has experienced multiple attacks by Islamist extremists that 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 an IS-claimed suicide bombing in Tunis killed 12 presidential guards.

IS swept across swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, self-proclaiming a "caliphate" that ruled the region with an iron fist.

The group lost its territorial hold on Iraq in late 2017, with US-backed forces wresting its last bastion in Syria from them in March.

Commanders of the US-led coalition, which provided air and artillery support for the Kurdish-led operation against the group, have warned repeatedly that the jihadists' loss of their last piece of territory did not mean their elimination as a fighting force.

Analysts have said that continuing search and destroy operations by the multiple alliances lined up against IS would be necessary to prevent them mounting a comeback from their desert hideouts.

Suriviving IS members have gone under cover and carried out sporadic hit-and-run attacks, especially in Iraq and Syria.

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