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US Gives Military Equipment to Help Tunisia Protect Its Borders

FILE - Security forces keep watch in the southern Tunisian town of Dhiba, near the border with Libya, Feb. 9, 2015.

The United States gave jeeps, small aircraft and communications equipment to Tunisia on Thursday to help protect its southeastern border from Islamic extremists crossing over from Libya.

U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary Amanda Dory told officials in Tunis that she is "very pleased that the United States is able to provide Tunisia with surveillance aircraft that will improve Tunisia's ability to locate terrorists who attempt to infiltrate your borders."

Dory said the planes are designed to give Tunisian ground forces advance warning of any dangerous activity near the border.

Tunisia was the first North African country to overthrow a dictator in the so-called Arab Spring of 2011.

But extremism and terrorism still shake its fragile democracy, despite backing from the West.

Police raided a suspected terrorist hideout north of Tunis on Wednesday, breaking up what they called plans for "synchronized attacks." Two extremists were killed and 16 arrested.

Islamic State militants have struck across Tunisia's border with Libya and are responsible for terror strikes on a beach resort and an art museum in Tunis last year, killing about 60 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Militants also battled Tunisian security forces in March, leaving seven civilians dead along with a number of officers and militants.