Tunis, Mar 7: At least 10 people have been killed in clashes between Tunisian police and unidentified gunmen near the Libyan border, authorities said, amid increasing concern that violent extremism in Libya could destabilize the region.
The gunmen targeted a police station and military facilities at dawn Monday in the border town of Ben Guerdane in eastern Tunisia, Interior Ministry spokesman Yasser Mosbah told The Associated Press.
Army units averted an attack on the town's military barracks, and killed at least 10 assailants, according to Defense Ministry spokesman Rachid Bouhoula. One wounded attacker was arrested, he told the AP.
Hospital official Abdelkrim Sakroud said on state radio that three corpses had been brought to the hospital, including that of a 12-year-old girl.
The Tunisian military sent reinforcements and helicopters to the area around Ben Guerdane and authorities are hunting several attackers who are at large. The ministry urged residents to stay indoors.
The violence comes amid increasing international concern about Islamic State extremists in Libya. Tunisia's fledgling democratic government is especially worried after dozens of tourists were killed in extremist attacks in Tunisia last year.
Last week, Tunisian security forces killed five heavily armed men in an hours-long firefight after they crossed into the country from Libya with a larger group.
Tunisian security forces had been placed on alert based on "precise information" of possible border infiltrations following the February 19 US raid on an Islamic State group camp near the Libyan town of Sabratha, not far from the Tunisian border, the statement said.