Following yesterday’s attack on an army patrol in Jebel Semmama, (Kasserine) where a mine explosion combined with fire from rocket propelled grenades and light weapons killed three soldiers and injured nine more, units of the national army continue to search and attack suspected militant bases across the mountain in a bid to locate further camps thought to be concealed within the area.
Sporadic clashes have been ongoing since yesterday’s attack, with some losses reported among militant numbers and the seizure of a number of explosives. Bombing raids continued through the night upon suspected camps, where the fighters considered responsible for yesterday’s attack were thought to be hiding out.
The newly appointed Head of Government, Youssef Chahed visited the operations room at the Department of Defense yesterday to track developments in the search operations on Jebal Sammama, Tunivision reported.
Speaking to Tunisia Live, former spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense, Mokhtar Ben Nasser said Jebel Semmama is a difficult mountain on which to conduct operations of this type, “Terrorists were able to prepare an ambush of the military units to prove that they are present in the mountain. The military held their position and were able to stop them.” He added, however “the terrorists set up many mines, rocket launchers, grenades and assault rifles in order to prevent the army from moving forward. This shows the attack was very well organised.”
Ben Nasser explained how the militants are able to operate in the area, “The terrorist groups have logistical support and obtain arms from smuggling, despite the military units’ controls. Therefore they present a risk to the public, as they can move towards the cities. Here the military units have a crucial role in stopping the smuggling. The terrorists were able to attack the mountains and continue to survive there because we were, and we remain unable to fully cut their supply route.”
France condemned Monday’s terrorist attack on Mount Semmama (Kasserine) stating its willingness to strengthen co-operation with the Tunisian authorities in their fight against terrorism, TAP reported. “We offer condolences to families of the victims and wishes of prompt recovery to the wounded,” stated the French Foreign Ministry on its website.
Zaineb is a journalist in the Tunisia Live newsroom. She speaks Arabic, French and English.