News / Africa

Gunmen Kill 14 Tunisian Soldiers

FILE - A Tunisian armored personnel carrier patrols near the Jebel Chaambi mountain, June 25, 2013.FILE - A Tunisian armored personnel carrier patrols near the Jebel Chaambi mountain, June 25, 2013.
x
FILE - A Tunisian armored personnel carrier patrols near the Jebel Chaambi mountain, June 25, 2013.
FILE - A Tunisian armored personnel carrier patrols near the Jebel Chaambi mountain, June 25, 2013.
Reuters

At least 14 Tunisian troops were killed when gunmen attacked checkpoints in the remote Chaambi mountains, the deadliest militant strike on the North African country's armed forces.

Since April, thousands of Tunisian soldiers have been deployed to the Chaambi range bordering Algeria in an operation to flush out al-Qaida-linked militants seeking refuge there, some since fleeing French intervention in Mali last year. 

During the attack on Wednesday night, militants with rocket-propelled grenades and rifles ambushed checkpoints the military had set up to try to control the Chaambi region. 

The gunmen attacked as the soldiers were breaking their fast for the evening during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Defense Ministry said. More than 20 soldiers were wounded.

Tunisia has struggled with the rise of radical Islamist militants since the 2011 popular revolt ended the rule of autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and began its fragile steps towards democracy.

al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Qaida's North Africa branch, has claimed attacks in Tunisia in the past, but another militant group, Ansar al Sharia, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Washington, has also been blamed.

The mountain range is tough terrain with access into Algeria. Tunisian forces conducted several raids there and have bombarded caves after eight soldiers were captured and killed last year.

Algeria's military, experienced in battling its own Islamist militancy, have been coordinating on their side of the frontier, especially with sharing intelligence. But despite their large presence, Tunisian troops have been harried by improvised landmines and the porous border complicates tracking militants who use the area as a training ground.

One of the Arab world's most secular states, Tunisia has taken steps towards democracy since the 2011 revolt. It adopted a new constitution and allowed a caretaker government to take over until elections this year as a way to ease tensions between a leading Islamist party and secular opponents.

But hardline ultra-conservative Islamists are still influential, and Tunisia is one of the main sources of jihadist fighters traveling from North Africa to fight with Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Last year a Tunisian man who had traveled to fight in Syria returned to carry out a suicide attack on a beach resort near the capital, killing only himself, but shocking a country that relies heavily on foreign tourism for revenue.

Tunisian officials also worry about arms and fighters spilling over from neighboring Libya, where the weak government is unable to impose order on brigades of former rebels and militias still fighting since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.  

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid