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Tunisian forces kill at least five militants near Libya border

Tunisian special forces patrol in Ben Guerdane during clashes with militants on March 8, 2016. (AFP photo)

Tunisian troops have killed at least five Takfiri militants near the country’s border with Libya, after “unprecedented” attacks by Daesh militants left dozens dead in Tunisia.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement late Tuesday that security forces carried out an operation in the eastern town of Ben Guerdane and killed the “terrorists” in the Benniri area.

The operation came hours after security forces arrested 17 suspects near a military barracks following the Monday deadly attacks that killed 56 people, including civilians.

Prime Minister Habib Essid said some 50 Takfiri militants attacked an army barracks and police and National Guard posts in Ben Guerdane.

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid (AFP photo)

The attacks led to heavy clashes in the region, which left 36 militants killed, Essid also said.

He added that 12 army soldiers and seven civilians were also killed, noting that seven people were also arrested.

The Tunisian premier also said that the Takfiri militants killed one soldier in his own home. Some 14 soldiers and three civilians were also injured in the attack.

"The (security forces') reaction was rapid and strong. We won a battle and are prepared for any others. Now they know Tunisia is no easy pushover and that it is not so simple to set up an emirate in Ben Guerdane," Essid said.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi called the attack "unprecedented" and blamed it on Daesh terrorist group, which is mainly operating in Iraq and Syria.

Tunisian forces have repeatedly clashed with Takfiri militants on the borders of Libya and Algeria in recent years, but Monday's fighting was unusually bloody.

The relative calm in Tunisia has been punctured by growing instability in Libya which has plunged into chaos since former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011 after a NATO military intervention.

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