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14 Tunisian soldiers killed in mountain attack

By on July 17, 2014

At least 14 Tunisian soldiers were killed when gunmen with rocket-propelled grenades attacked two checkpoints in Chaambi mountains.

Militants ambushed the checkpoints on Wednesday night, killing the soldiers as they were breaking their fast for the evening during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Defence Ministry said.

Another soldier is missing after the attack, but authorities could not confirm if he had been kidnapped.

Tunisia has struggled with the rise of radical Islamist militants since the 2011 popular revolt ended the rule of autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and began its fragile steps towards democracy.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the north Africa branch, has also claimed attacks in Tunisia in the past, but another militant group, Ansar al Sharia, listed as a terrorist organization by Washington, is also active.

The mountain range is tough terrain with access into Algeria allowing small groups of fighters plenty of cover. Tunisian forces conducted several raids there and have bombarded caves after eight soldiers were captured and killed last year.

Last year a Tunisian man who had travelled to fight in Syria returned to carry out a suicide attack on a beach resort near the capital, killing only himself, but shocking a country that relies heavily on foreign tourism for revenue.

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