Militants attack Tunisian army posts during Ramadan feasts
June 24, 2013 photo of the Jebel Chaambi mountains in southwest Tunisia near the city of Kasserine.(Paul Schemm)
Bouazza Ben Bouazza, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, July 17, 2014 7:43AM EDT
TUNIS, Tunisia -- Militants in eastern Tunisia staged two simultaneous attacks on army posts while soldiers held a Ramadan feast, killing at least 14 soldiers, authorities said Thursday.
An extremist group believed linked to al Qaeda's North Africa arm claimed responsibility for the attacks on Mount Chaambi on its Facebook page, calling Tunisian security forces "tyrants." The Okba Ibn Nafaa brigade has claimed past attacks in the region near the Algerian border, where Tunisian security forces have been trying to root out Islamic extremists.
Defence Ministry spokesman Rachid Bouhoula said 14 soldiers were killed and 20 wounded in the attacks Wednesday night. He said the casualty toll could still rise, because evacuation efforts and a hunt for the attackers were underway Thursday.
The official TAP news agency reported that the attackers, armed with rocket launchers and automatic rifles, targeted soldiers as they were holding their sundown feast as part of the Ramadan Muslim holy month.
A similar attack in the region a year ago, also during Ramadan, killed eight Tunisian soldiers.
Tunisia's leadership is trying to ensure security and stability after a rocky few years following a 2011 uprising that overthrew its dictator and sparked revolts across the Arab world. While the 2011 uprising brought democracy to Tunisia, the country has also seen political assassinations and sporadic terrorist attacks that authorities have blamed on al Qaeda-linked extremists.