Tunisian soldiers drive a light gun car during clashes with militants in the southern town of Ben Guerdane, near the Libyan border, on March 7, 2016. / AFP / FATHI NASRI
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Tunisian forces repelled a extremist assault Monday on a town near the Libyan border, killing 35 assailants in what authorities said was a thwarted effort to establish an Islamic emirate.Among a total of more than 50 dead, 11 members of the security forces and seven civilians were killed in the fighting in Ben Guerdane that President Beji Caid Essebsi condemned as an "unprecedented" extremist attack. It was the second deadly clash in the border area in less than a week as Tunisia battles to prevent the large number of its nationals who have joined ISIS in Libya from returning to carry out attacks at home.Last Wednesday, troops killed five militants in a firefight outside the town in which a civilian was also killed and a commander wounded.Troops have been on alert in the border area following reports militants had been slipping across since a U.S. airstrike on an ISIS training camp in Libya on Feb. 18 killed dozens of Tunisian militants. Tunisia has built a 200-kilometre (125-mile) barrier that stretches about half the length of its border with Libya in an attempt to stop militants infiltrating.
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