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Tunisian army kills suspected jihadist

23 February 2016, 14:44

Tunis - A suspected jihadist was killed on Monday in an exchange of fire with security forces in a mountainous area of central Tunisia, a defence ministry spokesman said.

The interior ministry, meanwhile, reported that a 60-year-old man was mistakenly killed in a separate operation elsewhere.

"For two weeks, military forces have been tracking a group of terrorists in the Mount Mghila area,' the defence ministry's Belhassan Oueslati told AFP.

"One terrorist was killed in an exchange of fire with a military unit," he said, adding that the operation was ongoing.

Mount Mghila is adjacent to Mount Chaambi, which is considered to be the main rear base of Islamist militants on the border with Algeria.

Tunisian forces have been hunting down jihadists in the area since 2012.

Earlier this month, security forces killed three suspected jihadists in the rugged mountainous Tounine area, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the coastal town of Gabes.

The interior ministry, for its part, said the 60-year-old man was killed during an anti-terrorist operation in the Jendouba region in the northwest.

"This man was near the theatre of operations in the town of Oued Melliz", ministry official Yasser Messbah said.

The operation led to the arrest of 16 suspected militants including one who was wounded in an exchange of fire with the security forces, he added.

Messbah said guns and ammunition were also recovered.

Islamist militants have killed dozens of police and soldiers since the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Several attacks have been claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

But last year, the Islamic State jihadist group claimed attacks on the national museum in Tunis and a popular resort hotel, killing a total of 59 tourists, and the suicide bombing of a bus that killed 12 presidential guards.

The attacks have further damaged the tourism-reliant economy of the North African nation, which has still to recover since the revolution five years ago.

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