Militant ambush kills 4 soldiers in Tunisia near border

AP News
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Posted: Apr 07, 2015 12:52 PM

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Armed militants ambushed a Tunisian military patrol in the mountainous region near the border with Algeria on Tuesday, killing four soldiers, military officials said.

The soldiers were patrolling the area near the city of Kasserine when they were ambushed, said Col. Fouad Ahmed, the commander for the region. He told The Associated Press the number of wounded was not yet clear.

Earlier, army spokesman Brig. Gen. Belhassen Oueslati told the state news agency that the attack took place near the Mghilla mountain in the rugged border region of western Tunisia.

The mountainous area around the city of Kasserine has in recent years been a hotbed of extremists who descend from their mountain hideouts to attack soldiers and police.

The al-Qaida-linked Oqba ibn Nafaa brigade is based in this area. They are the same group the Tunisian government has said is behind the March 18 attack on the national museum that killed 22 people, mostly tourists.

On March 29, police ambushed and killed nine members of the group near the southern mining city of Gafsa, including one of its top commanders, an Algerian named Khaled Ben Hamadi Chaieb, also known as Lokman Abou Sakhr.

Faycal Cherif, a security expert, told the AP that Tuesday's attack was likely in revenge for Chaieb's death. The government has said he was the mastermind behind the museum attack.

Another extremist group, linked to the rival Islamic State organization, has claimed responsibility for the deadly museum attack.