Tunisian special forces have killed a senior commander of an ISIS affiliate during clashes with the group in a central, mountainous region as part of the authorities’ crackdown on terrorists, the Tunisian Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.
“After monitoring terrorist elements in the Mghila mountains, special forces clashed with the terrorists and killed Saif Eddin Jammali known as Abu Qaqaa, one of the most dangerous terrorist leaders in Tunisia in Jund al-Khilafah,” the defense ministry said.
It said the special forces seized weapons and other military equipment in the operation late on Wednesday. It did not give more details.
Tunisia’s security forces are engaged in a crackdown on ISIS after they carried out four major attacks in the last year. There were scores of casualties in assaults on a Tunis museum, a beach resort and a border town near Libya, crippling Tunisia’s vital tourism industry.
Tunisian troops often clash with militants allied with al-Qaeda operating near the Algerian border, but last year’s brutal attacks were claimed by fighters loyal to ISIS or its local affiliate Jund al-Khilafah.
Last week, elite Tunisian police squads killed what authorities described as two “dangerous armed terrorists” and arrested 16 others in raids outside the capital to abort plans for “synchronized attacks.”
Most of them were trained in Libya.
ISIS has carved out a base in Libya, taking over the city of Sirte. Security sources say many of ISIS Libya’s commanders are Tunisians who have established training camps there and threatened to carry out attacks on Tunisia.
For two weeks in March, security forces battled armed groups, some crossing the border from Libya, who attacked security and military sites in the border town of Ben Guerdane, with the alleged goal of creating an “emirate.”