Tunisian Police kills eight Islamic militants in raid

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Originally published on February 5, 2014

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Tunisian forces carried out a deadly raid on Tuesday outside the capital in which seven Islamist militants and one policeman were killed.

The operation was launched on Monday afternoon in the Tunis suburb of Raoued, near the capital's luxury beach resorts. The area was cordoned off by police as armoured vehicles filled the streets.

After receiving a tip-off about militants holing up in a building, special units of the National Guard were dispatched to surround the structure. The militants were heavily armed and wore bomb belts, Reuters reported. A large amount of ammunition was later found in the house.

The operation came to a standstill after police and militants exchanged gunfire and militants refused to turn themselves in. Tunisian forces broke the stalemate by storming into the besieged house. In the final firefight, seven militants and one policeman were killed.

Interior Minister Lofti Ben Jeddou told reporters at a news conference that one of the militants killed was Kamel Ghadghadi, a leader of the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, who had been wanted for killing seven soldiers. Declared a terrorist group by Washington, Ansar al-Sharia has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda.

The Tunisian authorities have not announced the identities of the militants.

The rise of ultraconservative groups in the aftermath of the Arab Spring in 2011 has roiled Tunisia, one of the most secular countries in the region.

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