Isis official killed during raid by Tunisian security services 'while planning Ramadan terror attacks'

Interior ministry says man killed was an important and 'dangerous' member of terrorist group

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The Independent Online

A senior Isis official has been killed by security forces in Tunisia while allegedly planning attacks to take place during Ramadan.

The Tunisian interior ministry refused to identify the leader but confirmed he was an important and “dangerous” member of the terrorist group. Sofiene Sliti, a spokesman for the judiciary, suggested the suspect may have been 20-year-old Houssem Tlithi although this is unconfirmed.

Eleven warrants had been issued by the government for his arrest before he was killed in a night raid on a property in the Jebel Chaambi area near the Algerian border. 

The interior ministry said the suspect had been on the run for the past three years and hid for many months in the Mount Salloum region, a known extremist stronghold. 

Another member of Isis was wounded during the attack and a large quantity of weapons including explosives were seized, the ministry confirmed.

Security officials believe Isis intended to use bomb belts and Kalashnikov assault rifles to launch a series of attacks on nearby towns during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Jebel Chaambi area is a jihadi enclave where other violent Islamist groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked Uqba ibn Nafi Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia find safe haven.

Tunisia is traditionally a moderate Muslim country but it is under more regular threat from Isis fighters returning from conflict in Syria and Iraq.

The group has also gained a foothold in neighbouring Libya, where the Manchester bomber made frequent visits during the country's ongoing civil war.

Tunisia has lost dozens of security officials to terrorist attacks since the 2011 revolution, as well as seeing the deaths of 59 tourists.

A state of emergency has been in place since November 2015, when 12 presidential guards were killed by Isis in Tunis.

The followed another Isis terror attack on the Bardo Museum and shooting massacre in the beach resort of Sousse, which left 38 victims including 30 British tourists dead in June 2015.