Tunisia: Terrorists Planned to establish “IS Emirate”, Premier

Jihadists who launched twin and coordinated attacks against military and security forces in the town of Ben Guerdane, near Libyan border planned to establish an “Islamic Emirate”, Prime Minister Essid revealed in a televised address Monday.

“The purpose of the attack was to disrupt the security situation in our country and establish a Daesh emirate in Ben Guerdane,” Habid Essid said.

“But thanks to all the efforts, to the cooperation between our national army and our internal security forces, the reaction was strong and fast,” he added.

The attacks which started at dawn continued till night according to the Interior Ministry. The death toll soared to 53, mostly among the jihadists who lost 36 men. 11 security forces and 7 civilians were also killed in the clashes. Forces also reportedly discovered caches of weapons.

Prime Minister Essid also announced establishment of a curfew from 07pm to 05am and combing of the city to get rid of the last pockets of assailants.

On his part President Caid Essebsi also hailed the people of Ben Guerdane for their collaboration with forces. He also explained that given current developments and looming threats, Tunisia is compelled to close borders with Libya, housing the terrorists.

This latest clash between forces and assailants is the second near the Libyan border in less than a week. On Wednesday, security forces hunted down a group of terrorists coming from neighboring Libya. Five of them were killed and several made captives. One military commander was injured in the clash which also claimed the life of a civilian who was accidentally killed in the cross-fire.

Tunisia is battling against illegal crossings of jihadists trained in Libya where IS has established nerve center launching attacks in Tunisia.

Authorities have stepped up security at the border with war-torn Libya. They have built sand barrier and trenches along the border. Sunday Defense Minister also announced the arrival of German and American experts who will help install a monitoring electronic system at the border.

Security level has been tightened as well after reports revealed that Tunisian jihadists killed in the Libyan western city of Sabratha in a US air raid on February 19 were planning further terrorist attacks similar to those which occurred at the Bardo Museum in March and in Sousse in June, last year.

December last year a group of Tunisian IS fighters based in Libya released a video celebrating the terror attacks which struck the country. They also announced fresh attacks to kill lives and free fellow fighters clocked in Tunisian prisons.

A UN working group last year issued a report indicating that more than 5, 000 Tunisians aged between 18 and 35 left the country to join terror groups in hotbed conflict zones.

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