Days after the killing of a Tunisian serviceman in his Kasserine home, military units claim to have engaged with elements of the group thought responsible, killing one and wounding six.
According to Ministry of Defense spokesperson, Belhasen Oueslati, military units ambushed and engaged the group in Mount Selloum in Kasserine yesterday. Search operations are ongoing for the remainder of the group who are said to have fled following the engagement.
Military forces have been combing the mountainous areas surrounding Kasserine since the brutal murder of Senior Corporal, Saad Ghozlani on Saturday. Corporal Ghozlani was reported to have been killed by an unknown number of assailants following a series of disputes with a cousin over the latter’s decision to join one of the militant groups operating within the area.
According to initial Ministry of Defense communiqués, the dead man is said to be Tunisian and, according to MosaiqueFM from Sidi Bouzid. The Ministry of Defense has also claimed that the dead man was a member of the Uqba Ibn Naffi Katibat, (Brigade) known to be affiliated with the Algeria based Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, (AQIM). This latest information possibly runs counter to an earlier claim of responsibility by the Islamic State, (Daesh). However, though AQIM and Daesh are generally considered to be opposed to one another within the region, the specific allegiances of the Tunisian Uqba Ibn Naffi Katibat remains unclear.
According to the Tunisian government, the Katibat were responsible for last year’s devastating attack at the Bardo Museum in March, which killed 21 people. However, the international community has always maintained that the attack had been orchestrated from the Daesh camp in Derna, Libya.
Speaking to Tunisia Live, security analyst and former spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, Mokhtar Ben Nasr said, “The Uqba Ibn Naffi Katibat is in agony. Their main leaders were all killed during the military operation at Sidi Yaaich, Gafsa in 2015, (where a number of those considered responsible for planning the Bardo attack, including their alleged leader, Lokmane Abou Sakhr were killed)”.
According to Ben Nasr, several of the radical takfiri salafist groups thought to operate throughout Tunisia have been weakened since the flow of weapons and supplies from Libya has dried up.
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.