TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Four Tunisian soldiers were killed when a land mine hit their vehicle while carrying out a sweep for Islamist extremists in a mountainous region near the Algerian border, authorities said Wednesday.
The Defense Ministry spokesman, Mohamed Zekri, said in a telephone interview that the Jound Al Khalifa brigade, close to al Qaida’s North African branch, was responsible. The group has carried out numerous killings in Tunisia.
The soldiers’ vehicle exploded as it passed through Mont M’Gila, a closed military zone where jihadis are holed up between the provinces of Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine, the spokesman said.
The ministry spokesman noted that troops carry out regular sweeps of the area to track down dozens of jihadis who sometimes force residents in the valley below to give them food. In February 2019, jihadis beheaded a shepherd suspected of passing information about their location to authorities.
Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said the loss “will not affect our determination to continue to fight terrorism and vanquish it.”