Three militants killed near Tunisia’s Ben Guerdane

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Three militants were killed Thursday in security operations in Tunisia’s border area of Ben Guerdane, where militants launched a full-blown attack this week, the authorities said.

The latest deaths raised to 49 the tally of militants killed since Monday’s assault in Ben Guerdane, near Libya’s border, on an army barracks and police and National Guard posts.

One of the militants was killed in Zokra district after he shot at an army and police patrol, the interior and defense ministries said in a joint statement.

The two others were killed in Hassi al-Nour district, where another man was also detained and four Kalashnikov rifles were seized, it said.

In total, eight militants have been detained since Monday, according to an AFP tally.

Thirteen members of the security forces and seven civilians were killed in Monday’s attacks, according to official figures.

No claim

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks, but the authorities have blamed them on the ISIS group present in neighboring Libya.

ISIS has taken advantage of a power vacuum in Libya since the NATO-backed overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 to set up bases in several areas, including near Sabratha close to the Tunisian border.

A nighttime curfew and tight security remain in place in Ben Guerdane, a city of around 60,000 inhabitants.

A local official has been dismissed, the authorities said Thursday, without giving any reason for the decision.

Tunisia has built a 200-kilometre barrier that stretches about half the length of its border in an attempt to stop militant incursions from Libya.

Last year ISIS - which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq and is also active in Egypt - claimed three attacks in Tunisia, killing dozens of foreign tourists and presidential guards.