TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian security forces killed five Islamist militants after they infiltrated across the border from neighboring Libya, authorities said on Wednesday.
The expansion of Islamic State militants in Libya is worrying the country’s North African neighbors Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria, who fear violent spillover from the chaos there.
Tunisia has already suffered two major militant attacks last year by gunmen who officials say were trained in jihadist camps inside Libya. Western governments are now offering aid for Tunisia to better protect its Libyan frontier.
“The army killed five terrorists during a raid on a house close to Ben Guerdan, after they crossed over the frontier from Libya,” army spokesman Belhassen Ouslati said, according to local state news agency TAP.
A security source told the agency the five militants were part of a group of 10 who had crossed the border with Libya in three vehicles. It was not immediately clear what happened to the other suspects.
Tunisia has been held up as a model for democratic transition since the 2011 uprising against Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. But the militant attacks have battered its economy, particularly its tourist industry.
More than 3,000 Tunisians have also left to fight with Islamic State and other militant groups in Iraq and Syria. Increasingly, Tunisians are also forming part of Islamic State ranks in Libya.
Reporting by Tarek Amara; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Dominic Evans