Militants and National Guard members clashed just north of Tatouine, a city in Tunisia’s south, resulting in the deaths of 4 National Guard members and 3 militants. The clashes took place in the afternoon, 20 km north of Tatouine. According to the Tunisia’s Ministry of Interior, militants first began firing at security forces with AK-47s and then one of the militants detonated a suicide vest. At the time of the attack, a sand storm had been blanketing southern Tunisia, thus severely limiting visibility.
Tatouine and its surrounding area lies close to both Ben Guerdane and Libyan border
On the whole, today was quite busy for Tunisia’s security forces. Elite security units launched a dawn raid of a militant cell hideout in Mnihla, a neighborhood west of Tunis. The forces arrested 16 individuals, pursued 2, eventually killing them, and seized large caches of weapons, ammo, and explosives. The raid is believed to have prevented plans for “synchronized attacks.”
Additionally, civilians in the town of Ben Guerdane participated in a general strike organized by the town’s branch of the General National Labor Union, protesting against the continued closure of the Ras a Jedir border crossing. Tunisian truck drivers and gasoline smugglers have been stuck on the Libyan side since Sunday, not being allowed back in with their products. Ben Guerdane is the same town in which ISIS-linked militants stormed through in early March, attempting to establish a presence, only to be repelled by security forces.
Following the incident in Tatouine, the Ministry of Interior has reported that operations are ongoing.