Two people were killed in a land mine blast in a mountainous area of central Tunisia near the border with Algeria used as a hideout by jihadist militants, the defense ministry announced Tuesday, September 25.
“Two citizens in a truck were killed” in Monday’s explosion on Mount Chaambi, ministry spokesperson Mohamed Zekri told AFP, without identifying the victims.
Tunisian armed forces have for the past six years carried out operations to track down wanted Islamists in the region, which was declared a closed military zone in 2014.
The defense ministry on Tuesday renewed its warning for local residents to steer clear of Mount Chaambi “to avoid being targeted by terrorists hiding out there.”
Since the Tunisian revolution in 2011, jihadists have killed dozens of members of the security forces and at least 59 foreign tourists.
The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when a suicide bombing in Tunis claimed by Islamic State killed 12 presidential guards.
Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, Islamic State, and Katibat ‘Uqbah Bin Nafi have emerged as the most prominent jihadist groups in Tunisia, and KUBN cells are active in the mountainous regions on the Tunisia-Algeria border, according to Aaron Zelin, the Richard Borow Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a Visiting Research Scholar at Brandeis University.
ISIS and KUBN have each conducted two attacks in Tunisia this year, and since early August there have been more than 40 arrests for jihad-related crimes.
KUBN is linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and most recently claimed an attack in July, when at least six police officers were killed in an ambush near Ghardimau in Jendouba province. The group claimed to have killed nine police.
Significant numbers of Tunisian jihadis have fought with ISIS and al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria and Libya.
With reporting from AFP