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Tunisia soldier killed by 'friendly fire'

03 June 2013, 15:11

Tunis - Tunisian soldiers accidentally shot dead a colleague during an operation targeting an al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group in the country's western border region, the interior ministry said on Monday.

"The army set a trap for the terrorist elements but a soldier left his position and his comrades told him to stop, believing that he was a terrorist, before opening fire," ministry spokesperson Mokhtar Ben Nasr said.

The director of the regional hospital in Kasserine, Salah Amri, said the soldier was hit by five bullets overnight on Sunday-Monday.

The operation took place on Mount Chaambi, the rugged border area near Algeria where the military has been hunting armed Islamists with links to al-Qaeda since December.

The army intensified its search at the end of April, after landmines planted by the jihadists to protect their base wounded more than a dozen soldiers and members of the national guard, some seriously.

On Saturday, three soldiers were wounded in the same area when a landmine exploded underneath their vehicle, bringing to around 20 the number of military personnel wounded since the end of April.

Muslim extremists suppressed under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali have become increasingly active since the January 2011 uprising that ousted the former dictator, and have launched a wave of attacks, notably on the US embassy in September last year.



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