Tunisian border guard killed in 'terrorist' shootout

A Tunisian army helicopter patrols near the Mount Chaambi, a border region with Algeria (AFP Photo/Abderrazek Khlifi)

Tunis (AFP) - A Tunisian border guard was killed in a shootout with jihadists on the border with Algeria, officials said Monday, in an attack claimed by the North African country's main extremist group.

Finance Minister Slim Chaker said one guard was killed and three others wounded when they were "attacked close to the Bouchebka border post" late Sunday.

"We are taking measures to transport (the wounded) to a military hospital as soon as possible," he told Mosaique FM radio, adding two guards were in a serious condition.

Ridha Ennasri, president of the union of border guards, confirmed to AFP that a border guard was killed in "a terrorist attack".

The shooting was claimed by the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigades, an Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist organisation that has claimed a string of attacks in Tunisia.

In a message circulated on jihadist forums the group said it had "ambushed" the guards.

The killing comes days after a Tunisian policeman was shot dead by two assailants on a motorbike in the coastal resort of Sousse.

Authorities have been unable to say whether that killing was carried out by jihadists and an investigation is ongoing.

In June, a jihadist gunman killed 30 Britons and eight other foreign tourists on a beach in Sousse in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

Tunisia has been under a state of emergency since that massacre, which followed an attack by gunmen on the Bardo museum in the capital Tunis that killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman in March.

Extra troops have been posted at tourist sites since the beach killings.

Tunisia has been waging an offensive against the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigades, claiming the killing of three senior leaders in a security forces raid last month.

Authorities also blame the group for the Bardo museum attack.

Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has faced an surge in jihadist violence that has cost the lives of dozens of soldiers and police.