Tunisian forces and militants clash near border, one killed

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 17, 2014 6:21 AM

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian police killed an Islamist militant during clashes near the Algerian border, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, after the government raised the security alert level before elections next month.

Since April, thousands of troops have been deployed in Tunisia's mountainous Chaambi region on the border with Algeria, where Islamist fighters - some of them linked to al Qaeda - have taken refuge .

"Security and army units killed a terrorist and wounded another late on Tuesday in clashes in Kasserine city," Mohamed Ali Aroui, an interior ministry spokesman said.

Aroui said security forces continued to pursue militants in Kasserine but gave no further details.

Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said on Tuesday Tunisian security forces were heightening security across the North African country with special focus in border areas monitoring arms smuggling and Islamist groups.

Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jedou last month warned of a militant threat to disrupt the elections and derail the country's democratic progress.

Since its 2011 uprising, Tunisia has advanced toward full democracy and is seen as a model for the region. Tunisia holds its first full parliamentary elections on Oct. 26 after adopting a new constitution this year.

At least 15 soldiers were killed in attacks on checkpoints in the border area in July. A deputy in Tunisia's transitional parliament survived an assassination attempt in Kasserine on Sept. 1.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Patrick Markey and Tom Heneghan)