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article imageTunisia detains six IS suspects

By AFP     May 30, 2017 in World

Tunisia has detained six people in the central region of Kasserine suspected of belonging to a group linked to the Islamic State group, authorities said Tuesday.

The announcement comes after a jihadist leader was killed in a National Guard operation on Sunday night in Kasserine's Mount Salloum area near the border with Algeria.

Judiciary spokesman Sofiene Sliti said the six suspects were detained on Monday as the same security operation continued.

The interior ministry said they belonged to "sleeper cells" of Jund al-Khilafa, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, which has carried out attacks in the country in the name of IS.

The ministry also said the jihadist killed on Sunday had belonged to the Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion, which is linked to Al-Qaeda, and not to IS as it had previously said.

DNA tests showed the jihadist was named Sami Rhimi, was born in 1993 and had joined the group in 2012, it said, after the judiciary spokesman on Monday identified him as someone else.

Authorities said on Monday he had been plotting attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, which started on Saturday and during which Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.

Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has experienced an increase in jihadist attacks that have cost the lives of dozens of members of the security forces and 59 foreign tourists.

The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when a suicide bombing in Tunis claimed by IS killed 12 presidential guards.

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