Nine killed in clashes between Tunisian police and Islamist militants

Nine killed in clashes between Tunisian police and Islamist militants

Seven members of Tunisia's National Guard and two Islamist fighters were killed on Wednesday in clashes during a raid by security forces in the southern town of Sidi Bouzid Al Arabiya reported.

The fighting broke out when the National Guard tried to raid a house in the locality of Sidi Ali Ben Aoun where the gunmen were hiding, according to Agence France-Presse.

A source at the hospital in Sidi Ali Ben Aoun said the bodies of six policemen were in its mortuary, according to AFP.

The powerful UGTT trade union confederation has called a strike in Sidi Bouzid for Thursday to mourn the slain members of the security forces.

The incident occurred just days after Tunisian security forces killed 10 Islamist militants, who authorities said belonged to the Ansar al-Sharia group, near the Algerian border.

Ansar al-Sharia, a hardline Islamist group in North Africa was declared a terrorist organization by the Tunisian government and is accused of being behind the murder of two opposition leaders.

Tunisian authorities also say that the group is behind a string of attacks on security forces, according to Reuters.

Ansar al-Sharia's leader in Tunisia is a former al-Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan, who is accused of inciting his followers to attack the U.S. embassy compound in Tunis a year ago.

Tunisia has suffered a wave of deadly attacks blamed on jihadist militants since the ouster of veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

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