Bilel Kobi, a senior Al Qaida member in North Africa on the run from Algerian authorities for two and a half decade, was killed in an operation carried out by the Special Unit of the Tunisian National Guard.
The member of Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), who served as top aide to Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, was killed in an ambush near the Algerian border when he was on a mission to reorganize AQIM’s Tunisian branch following Tunisian air strikes, security forces said on Saturday.
The Okba Ibn Nafaa, the local branch of AQIM, has mostly been based in the Semmama and Chaambi mountain range along the border with Algeria and the army has been trying to flush them out for several years. Militants have in the past carried out raids on checkpoints and towns nearby.
The interior ministry said their forces on Sunday found the body of another militant killed during Saturday’s operation.
“This terrorist is an Algerian named Bechir Ben Neji and he was the leader of Okba Ibn Nafaa in the Semmama mountain,” it said. Last year security forces killed militants including Algerian Mourad Chaieb, former leader of Okba Ibn Nafaa.
Tunisia has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when a suicide bombing in Tunis claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group killed 12 presidential guards.