Tunis: An Al-Qaeda-linked Tunisian group has offered backing to the Islamic State organisation that has overrun chunks of Iraq and Syria, becoming the third jihadist group to do so this week, a US-based monitor says.
Okba Ibn Nafaa, whose militants Tunisian armed forces have been hunting in mountains near the Algerian border for two years, has identified itself with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the international jihadist network's North African branch.
On Tuesday, AQIM and the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) urged jihadists in Iraq and Syria to unite against the common threat from a US-led coalition assembled to fight IS.
"The mujahedeen brothers in the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade from... (Tunisia) are supporting, endorsing, and strongly sustaining the State of the Islamic Caliphate," the group said, quoted by SITE Intelligence Group late yesterday.
"They are urging it to move forward in breaking the borders and crushing the thrones of the tyrants everywhere," SITE quoted a statement on Facebook as saying.
The Tunisian army accused the jihadists in July of killing 15 soldiers in the restive border region in the bloodiest day in the army's history.
Several weeks before that, the group claimed an attack on the home of the interior minister.
Since the 2011 revolution that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has faced a resurgence in activity by jihadists, who were among Islamist groups suppressed by the previous regime.