Tunisia steps up hunt for insurgents in town near Libya border

Tunisian security forces on Wednesday pressed ahead with a massive hunt for insurgents in a town near the Libyan border, having killed 10 of them since late Tuesday, the Interior Ministry said.

The latest toll brings to 46 the number of suspected militants killed since Monday in the town of Ben Guerdane, located near the Libyan border, the ministry added.

A soldier was killed Wednesday in an exchange of fire with gunmen who had stormed a workshop in the town.

Security forces are chasing "terrorist elements" who fled from the centre of Ben Guerdane to its outskirts, Tunisia's state news agency TAP reported without giving details.

The crackdown was under way as funerals were held in Ben Guerdane for civilians and troops who had been killed in the fight against insurgents believed to be members of the Islamic State terrorist militia.

The violence in Ben Guerdane started on Monday when unidentified gunmen attempted to seize military and police facilities there.

Thirteen security personnel and seven civilians were killed in the fight, according to official figures.

The unrest prompted Tunisian authorities to close the border with Libya and impose a night-time curfew on Ben Guerdane.

Some stores in the town briefly re-opened Wednesday to meet the locals' needs for basic items, TAP said.

Tunisia, widely seen as the sole democratic success story of the 2010-11 Arab Spring uprisings, has experienced a series of deadly attacks during the past year.

Some of those attacks were claimed by Islamic State, which is active in Libya.

Last month, Tunisia completed a sand barrier and trench running half the length of its border with Libya.

Libya has been destabilized since the 2011 overthrow of long-ruling dictator Moamer Gaddafi. 

Last update: Wed, 09/03/2016 - 17:10
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