Tunisian authorities said a female suicide bomber killed herself and her baby during counterterrorism operations in a mountainous zone in struggling interior provinces near the Algerian border.
Two other extremists were killed in the security operations, according to an Interior Ministry statement on Thursday night.
In one operation, Tunisian forces were tracking an extremist group in the Mount Salloum area of Kasserine province. They killed one suspected extremist, whose wife then killed herself by activating an explosive belt, the statement said. The explosion killed her baby in her arms, while an older daughter also at the scene survived, according to the ministry.
“Our forces killed a terrorist, as his Asian wife blew herself up, killing also her baby in Saloum mountain,” said Colonel Houssem Jbebli, an official in National Guard.
Authorities said it was the first time they had reported the presence of a woman among the extremists taking refuge in the area.
In a second operation, in the Mount Mghila area, security forces killed Hamdi Dhouib, a local leader in Jund El Khilafah, an affiliate branch of ISIS was also killed in an ambush in Mghila mountains, the statement said
The brigade pledged allegiance to the ISIS group and is believed to be behind several attacks in Tunisia in recent years.
Six years ago, an ISIS militant shot dead 39 foreigners on a beach in Sousse, triggering an exodus of tourists and severely damaging Tunisia’s economy.
Since then Tunisia has grown more effective in preventing and responding to attacks, but sleeper cells still pose a real threat, especially with the return of extremiists from Syria, Iraq and Libya.
The mountainous Mghila and Saloum area, near the impoverished city of Kasserine, is home to a militant group that the Tunisian army has been fighting for years.
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