Tunisia: Death toll up to 55 in clashes near Libyan border

News4u-News Desk- Prime Minister Habib Essid praised Tunisia’s military and security forces today for their response to the deadly assault by extremist attackers near the Libyan border.

The death toll from yesterday’s clashes in the city of Ben Guerdane rose to 55, including 36 attackers, Essid said today.

Seven civilians and 12 members of Tunisia’s security forces also died, and 17 others were injured.

“The attack that happened yesterday showed that our military and security forces were ready,” he told a press conference.

“We won a battle, but we haven’t yet won the war on terror, and that war continues.”

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but websites affiliated with the Islamic State group said IS militants were handed a tough blow by Tunisian security forces.

One website published more than 30 pictures showing militants’ bodies as well as weapons and munitions seized.

Essid said that about 50 gunmen, most of them Tunisians, took part to the attack. Only four out of the 36 attackers killed have been formerly identified.

Essid did not give more details about the attackers’ background but said some came from Libya.

According to local journalist Raoudha Bouttar, there was sporadic gunfire on Tuesday in the outskirts of Ben Guerdane as Tunisian forces searched for attackers still at large.

Tunisian forces have repeatedly clashed with extremists on the borders of Libya and Algeria in recent years, but yesterday’s fighting was unusually bloody.

Tunisia has been as a model of relative stability for the region since an uprising five years ago ushered in democracy and inspired Arab Spring protests against dictatorships across the region.

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