Tunisian forces killed a suspected militant Tuesday and arrested eight others, the Interior Ministry said, amid heightened security concerns in the relatively peaceful North African country.
The country is grappling with a rise in extremist and sometimes-violent Islamic groups since the ouster of long-time President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 ignited the Arab Spring. More than 20 security personnel, including soldiers and law enforcement officers, have been killed in the last year, and last month a Tunisian man blew himself up in the resort city of Sousse, injuring no one else but setting off a new wave of fears.
Security forces have clashed several times with militants in the mountains along the Algerian border — at times with high casualties — but Tuesday’s fighting took place in the country’s southern desert.
The Associated Press reports that authorities seized five vehicles, a grenade, and a truck that was going to be rigged with explosives.
Tunisia’s ruling interim government is in the midst of negotiations with the opposition as part of a faltering ”national dialogue” to establish a technocratic caretaker government ahead of popular elections next year.