Tunisian soldier killed in landmine explosion near Algeria border

by Reuters
Friday, 18 April 2014 13:22 GMT

TUNIS, April 18 (Reuters) - A Tunisian soldier was killed and another wounded in a landmine explosion near the Algerian border on Friday as security forces fought with suspected Islamist militants, the army said.

There have been several blasts from improvised mines in the remote area of Mount Chaambi southwest of the capital Tunis. The government began a campaign last year to root out Islamist militants in the area.  "One soldier was killed and another wounded in a landmine blast in Mount Chaambi," army spokesman Taoufik Rahmouni told Reuters.

He said army forces were fighting with insurgents in the area, without giving further details.

President Moncef Marzouki declared Mount Chaambi a closed military zone two days ago, suggesting the possibility of a major offensive against militant refugees there.

Since Tunisia's uprising in 2011, security forces have been battling militants from the hardline Islamist movement Ansar al-Sharia, which the United States in January listed as a foreign terrorist organization.

One of the Arab world's most secular countries, Tunisia has been moving towards democracy since the revolt, passing a new constitution and setting elections for this year.

But Islamist militant violence is one of the main challenges for the new caretaker government. This year, police have arrested and killed dozens of militants including senior leaders of Ansar al-Sharia. (Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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