After foiling attacks along its borders with Libya, the Tunisian government has issued a statement saying they have won the war against jihadists.
The information came after the Ben Guerdane border town attack where according to AFP, six members of the National Guard, two policemen, a customs official and a soldier died when militants attacked their security posts.
According to data read out by Prime Minister Habib Essid, the total number of casualties now stands at 55, comprising 36 insurgents, 12 security officials and seven civilians.
We won a battle but we have not yet won the war. The war against terrorism continues. We have mobilized all our resources, the state has equipped to support our national army and forces
#Tunisia PM: Final figures of yesterday's operations: 36 terrorists killed & 7 detained. 12 security forces & 7 civilians killed.— Ben Ben Tunisia (@benbentn) March 8, 2016
“The jihadists have now understood that Tunisia was not easy, it was not a walk in the park to establish sic ‘an emirate of Daech’ in this city,” he said.
The Ben Guerdane pre-dawn attack led to a nighttime curfew ordered by authorities as troops were deployed across the town to hunt for others involved.
The head of the government said that according to preliminary data, majority of those who had been killed and arrested as attackers were Tunisians, however, he did not rule out the presence of foreigners among them.
“We won a battle but we have not yet won the war. The war against terrorism continues. We have mobilized all our resources, the state has equipped to support our national army and forces,” he said.
Tunisian government issued a statement saying calm had returned at the border town, while witnesses said there was sporadic gunfire throughout the day.
It was the second deadly clash in the border town in less than a week as Tunisia struggles to prevent the large number of its nationals who have joined the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Libya from returning to carry out attacks at home.
Notably, jihadists have taken advantage of a power vacuum since the NATO-backed ouster of longtime Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 to set up bases in several areas of Libya, including the Sabratha area between Tripoli and the Tunisian border.
Tunisia also built a 200-kilometer (125 miles) barrier that stretches about half the length of its border with Libya in an attempt to stop militants from infiltrating.