Tunisian armed forces launch attacks on militants

August 2, 2013 15:05

TUNIS - Tunisia on Friday launched air and ground strikes against militants near the Algerian border after fierce overnight clashes in the area.

Earlier this week, militants killed eight soldiers in the remote Mount Chaambi region, in one of the deadliest attacks on Tunisian security forces in decades.Witnesses said they saw aircraft bombing caves in the area, where the military has been trying to track down Islamist militants since December.

"A major military operation with the participation of air and ground units began at dawn on Friday," army spokesman Taoufik Rahmouni said.

Militants killed eight Tunisian soldiers on Monday in an ambush in the area, shooting them and slitting their throats in what the government called a "terrorist attack".

Tunisia's elected Islamist-led government is grappling with rising instability and a protest movement organized by the secular opposition, which is demanding the government's ouster. Opposition groups are angry about a second assassination of one of their leaders last week.

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