Deadly clashes have erupted between security forces and armed men in the Tunisian city of Ben Gardane near the border with Libya. The death toll was not immediately clear as calm returned to the area on Monday. An army spokesman said 10 attackers were killed in the clashes.
Assailants simultaneously attacked an army barracks and national guards with heavy weaponry, including rocket-propelled grenades. An ambulance was also stolen in the clashes. A security and military campaign began last week in Ben Gardane, after Tunisian security officials said “terrorist groups” sneaked into the country. Officials said the campaign followed raids in Libya against fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Fighters trained in Libya carried out several attacks on Tunisia last year.
Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri, reporting from Tunisia, described Ben Gardane as a strategically important town that is the “gateway to Libya”. It serves as a hub for arms trafficking and smuggling of everyday goods. “Tunisia has built a fence along the border with Libya but that doesn’t seem to stop the movement of armed attackers coming in from Libya and targeting the army and security forces,” she said. “In the past week we have seen several incidents of people coming across.”