Middle East

Tunisia finds another large arms cache near Libya border

Seized ammunition are displayed at a National Guard post in Medenine March 6, 2015. Tunisian troops have captured a large arms cache near the border with Libya, including Kalashnikov rifles, rockets and landmines, the government said. REUTERS/Stringer

TUNIS: Tunisian troops have captured a second large arms cache near the border with Libya, including Kalashnikov rifles and rockets, a security source said Monday.

Tunisia is waging a campaign against hardline Islamist groups who emerged after a 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali that put the North African country on track to democracy.

On Tuesday, Tunisia seized a first large arms cache, including Kalashnikov rifles, rockets and landmines in the southern city of Ben Guerdan.

"Tunisan troops discovered Monday a second arms cache including Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and explosives just 5 kilometers near the first cache in Ben Guerdan," a security source said.

Tunisia is worried that violence will spill over from neighboring Libya, where ISIS has expanded, exploiting widespread turmoil as two rival governments battle for control.

At least two Islamist militant groups operate in Tunisia, and analysts say ISIS is also seeking to spread its influence across the region.

Tunisian police last week killed two Islamist militants during clashes near the Algerian border, where the military has been targeted previously in ambushes.

Among the militant groups that emerged after 2011 is Ansar al-Sharia, which is listed as a terrorist organization by U.S. and European officials after being blamed for a 2012 storming of the U.S. embassy in Tunis.

More than 3,000 Tunisians have also left to join militants fighting in Syria and Iraq, and the government is concerned about the prospect of returning jihadi fighters carrying out attacks on their home soil.

 

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