December 1, 2014 / 9:49 AM / 3 years ago

Islamist militants kill Tunisian policeman near Algerian border

TUNIS (Reuters) - Islamist militants beheaded a Tunisian policeman after he was kidnapped near the Algerian border late on Sunday, officials said on Monday.

The government has tightened security as it prepares for a presidential election runoff this month between incumbent Moncef Marzouki and veteran politician Beji Caid Essebsi, the leader of secular Party Nida Tounes.

Tunisia has struggled to subdue hardline Islamists and jihadists opposed to the transition to democracy following the uprising four years ago against the former president, Zine el- Abidine Ben Ali.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Laroui said the policeman was seized along with his brother by 10 militants who attacked the car they were traveling in.

The brother was released, but beheaded Hassan Solatani in Touirif District in the city of El Kef, Laroui said.

Security units launched an operations to hunt down the Islamists in the area, where last month five officers were also killed in an ambush a bus carrying soldiers.

Among the militant groups operating in Tunisia is Ansar al Sharia, which the United States considers a terrorist organization and accuses of orchestrating the storming of the U.S. embassy in Tunis in 2012.

The date of the runoff is due to be announced on Tuesday.

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Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Alison Williams

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