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Tunisian police kill Islamist militant after clashes close to Libya - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Supporters of the Islamist party "Hizb Ut-Tahrir" movement chant slogans during a rally at central Habib Bourguiba Avenue, in Tunis November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili

Supporters of the Islamist party “Hizb Ut-Tahrir” movement chant slogans during a rally at central Habib Bourguiba Avenue, in Tunis on November 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Anis Mili)

Tunis, Reuters—Tunisian police killed an Islamist militant and wounded two others on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry said, after clashes in a southern city close to the border with Libya, where authorities say Tunisian militants are being trained and armed.

Tunisia’s government has increased security operations after a suicide bomber blew himself up in the tourist resort of Sousse last month, the first such assault in more than a decade.

“The security forces killed one terrorist, wounded two others and arrested the rest of the group after a confrontation with militants hiding in a house in [the city of] Kebeli,” said Mohamed Ali Aroui, a spokesman for the interior ministry.

He later said eight people had been arrested and five cars seized, including one that he said was rigged up with a bomb.

Two members of the security forces were wounded during the clashes which took place at dawn on Tuesday.

Since an uprising ousted leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali nearly three years ago, Tunisia has faced a widening split over the role of political Islam in one of the most secular countries in the Muslim world.

But the assassination of two secular opposition leaders this year by Islamist militants sparked protests by opposition parties which demanded that the ruling moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, resign because it was too soft on hard-liners.

The government earlier this year began a crackdown on Ansar Al-Shari’a, a local militant group authorities say is linked to the local Al-Qaeda wing.

Tunisian authorities are also worried about spillover from the turmoil in neighbouring Libya, where the weak central government is struggling to contain rival militias, Islamist gunmen and former fighters.

As well as Ansar Al-Shari’a, North Africa is home to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other militants such as those led by veteran Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who claimed responsibility for the attack on Algeria’s Amenas gas plant in January.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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