Tunisian forces kill 'terrorist' near border attack town

Tunisian special forces, like these pictured on March 21, 2016, have dismantled two Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist cells that were planning to carry out attacks against shopping malls and political parties (AFP Photo/Fathi Nasri)

Zarzis (Tunisia) (AFP) - Tunisia's security forces have killed a "terrorist" outside the southern border town of Ben Guerdane where jihadists mounted a deadly assault earlier this month, authorities said on Monday.

"A terrorist element holed up in a house was killed in the Sayah area" near the border with Libya, the interior and defence ministries said in a joint statement.

Security forces found his body after several hours of heavy clashes, a security source said.

The ministries' statement said 11 people were wounded in the fighting -- three soldiers, a national guardsman, six policemen and a civilian.

The army and security forces have flooded Ben Guerdane since jihadists launched a dawn assault on security installations in the area on March 7, killing 13 members of the security forces and seven civilians.

The security source said Monday's raid was part of an operation launched Sunday to target the alleged killer of a security forces official during the March 7 assault.

On Monday morning, President Beji Caid Essebsi met Prime Minister Habib Essid to discuss "the security situation in Ben Guerdane", a statement from the president's office said.

There was no claim of responsibility for the March 7 attacks, but authorities blamed them on the Islamic State group.

Tunisian authorities said two "terrorists" were killed on Saturday in the same area.

Despite the latest violence, the interior ministry on Monday announced the easing of a nighttime curfew it imposed on Ben Guerdane after the March 7 attacks.

The curfew would now start at 2100 GMT instead of 1900 GMT and last until 0400 GMT.

Tunisia has failed to curb a rise in extremism since the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Last year, IS claimed responsibility for attacks on the Bardo museum in Tunis and a popular resort hotel, killing 59 tourists in total, and the suicide bombing of a bus that killed 12 presidential guards.

Thousands of Tunisians have signed up to fight abroad with extremist groups.

Tunisia is on Tuesday set to host a meeting for countries neighbouring Libya, where IS has taken advantage of the turmoil since the 2011 revolution there to extend its influence.