Tunisian militant landmine blast kills soldier

Reuters News
|
Posted: Dec 02, 2013 10:33 AM

TUNIS (Reuters) - A Tunisian soldier was killed and another wounded in a landmine explosion near the Algerian border where security forces are pursuing Islamist militants, the army said on Monday.

Tunisia, which was long one of the most secular states in the Arab world, has been struggling to contain hardline Islamists who have become more active since the overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

Several blasts from improvised mines have hit the remote area of Mount Chaambi, southwest of the capital Tunis, the focus of a hunt for Islamist militants since the government began a campaign earlier this year.

"One soldier was killed and another wounded in the blast," army spokesman Taoufik Rahmouni said.

Tunisian forces have been bombarding the mountains where militants have been holed up since a French offensive in nearby Mali. Eight soldiers were killed in Chaambi in July, some of whom had their throats slashed.

Ansar al-Sharia is the most radical Islamist group to emerge and challenge the authority of Tunisia's moderate Islamist-led government, which earlier this year declared the organization a terrorist group.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; editing by Patrick Markey and Ralph Boulton)