Tunisia: Soldier killed in mine blast in extremist stronghold

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A Tunisian soldier has been killed and three others were wounded in a mine blast in the restive Kasserine region, the defense ministry said Saturday, in an attack claimed by al-Qaeda-linked extremists.

The mine exploded Friday on Mount Chambi, in Kasserine, where the army has conducted search operations since 2012 to hunt down militants linked both to al-Qaeda and ISIS extremist group, the ministry said.

The area which borders Algeria - a “closed military zone” since 2014 - is considered to be a bastion of Okba Ibn Nafaa, a local affiliate of al-Qaeda in ISIS Maghreb (AQIM).

Okba Ibn Nafaa claimed responsibility for the attack, SITE Intelligence Group reported late Friday.

It said an anti-armored improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated targeting Tunisian soldiers but did not specify casualties, the monitoring group said.

The attack which the defense ministry said killed a 26-year-old soldier came days after officials said security forces had shot dead a suspected extremist in the Kef mountains further north.

Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has experienced multiple extremist attacks that have killed dozens of members of the security forces and 59 foreign tourists.

The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when an ISIS-claimed suicide bombing in Tunis killed 12 presidential guards.