Tunisia: 2 militants killed near capital

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisian counter-terrorism units on Monday killed two militants and arrested two other suspected militant leaders that authorities have linked to recent assassinations of opposition politicians, an official statement reported.

The announcement by the Ministry of Interior contradiceds an earlier state news agency report that four were killed in the dawn sweep on the outskirts of the Tunisian capital.

Since kicking off the Arab Spring with the overthrow of its dictator, Tunisia has wrestled with social unrest, a poor economy and especially the rising threat of armed religious extremists.

Tunisian forces have battled a group said to be allied to the al-Qaida terror network in the mountains along the border and discovered weapons caches around the country.

The assassination of opposition politicians first in February and then in July had the effect of paralyzing the country’s political life.

The government statement identified one of the men arrested as Mohammed Awadi and described him as head of the military wing of Ansar al-Shariah, an ultraconservative Muslim group recently classed by the government as terrorist.

The men were caught outside their homes after authorities raided their neighborhood following a tip, the statement added.

Authorities say that an armed group known as Oqba ibn Nafaa brigade that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaida is operating in the country with the support of groups like Ansar al-Shariah.

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