Tunisia kills 28 jihadists after attack near border

Tunisia kills 28 jihadists after attack near border

BEN GUERDANE - Agence France-Presse
Tunisia kills 28 jihadists after attack near border

Tunisian security forces gather at the scene of an assault on a house outside the town of Ben Guerdane near the border with Libya on March 3. AFP photo

At least 28 jihadists, 10 members of the security forces and seven civilians were killed yesterday in fighting in Tunisia near the Libyan border, the government has said.

Authorities ordered a nighttime curfew as troops deployed across the border town of Ben Guerdane to hunt for others involved in the coordinated pre-dawn attack.

It was the second deadly clash in the border area in less than a week as Tunisia battles to prevent the large number of its nationals who have joined Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group in Libya from returning to carry out attacks at home.

The jihadists have taken advantage of a power vacuum since the NATO-backed overthrow of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 to set up bases in several areas of Libya, including the Sabratha area between Tripoli and the Tunisian border.

The government said that an army barracks and police and National Guard posts in Ben Guerdane came under simultaneous attack.

Hospital official Abdelkrim Chafroud said a 12-year-old was among the dead civilians.

An AFP correspondent reported that schools and offices in Ben Guerdane were closed and troops had taken up position on rooftops across the town.

Residents were being urged to stay indoors even before the 7 pm (1800 GMT) start of the nighttime curfew.

Authorities closed the border crossings with Libya. They also closed the main road north to the rest of Tunisia, the correspondent said.

Prime Minister Habib Essid ordered the defense and interior ministers to head to Ben Guerdane to oversee operations against the jihadists.

Last week, troops killed five militants in a firefight outside the town in which a civilian was also killed and a commander wounded.