Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said Tuesday that 50 militants of the “Islamic State” (IS) attacked the city of Ben Guerdan on the Libyan borders to establish it as an IS province.
He said 55 people were killed Monday, including 36 terrorists, 12 security personnel, and seven civilians. Dozens of militants attacked security buildings in Ben Guerdan Monday and clashed with Tunisian security, which chased them in the streets.
Essid said the 50 people carried out their plan using a mosque in the city as a starting point. The investigations revealed they were planning to seize security buildings in the city to declare it an IS province.
“They wanted to take over the barracks and police stations and gain territory but our forces were ready,” Essid told journalists. “They thought it was going to be easy and the people of Ben Guerdan would help them. But Tunisians would never accept them.”
It is still not clear if the militants crossed the border from Libya or not. Tunisia decided to close its borders with its neighbour Libya following clashes between the Tunisian army and militants in the city of Ben Guerdan.
Despite Tunisia having completed construction of a barrier, comprised of sand banks and water trenches along its border with Libya, chaos and the spread of terrorism is still prolific.
UK military experts are helping the Tunisian army to protect its borders, while German and US experts are supposed to train more Tunisian troops about border security.
Islamist extremist groups trained in Libya carried out several terrorist operations in Tunisia in 2015, including attacks on Bardo museum in the capital and a resort in Souse.