Three leaders of Tunisian Qaeda-linked group killed: Minister

Three leaders of an Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group that has been blamed for a spate of violence in Tunisia were killed in a raid by security forces last week, the country`s interior minister said on Sunday.

"The operation carried out on Friday by our security forces in cooperation with the army in the region of Gafsa resulted in the elimination of five dangerous terrorists, including three senior leaders" of the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigades, Najem Gharsalli told a news conference.

The three were named as Tunisian nationals Mourad Gharsalli and Hakim Hazi, and Algerian national Lounis Abou Fath. The other two people killed have not yet been identified.

A Tunisian government spokesman had previously announced Mourad Gharsalli`s death on Saturday.

Abou Fath had been wanted by Algerian authorities since 1994, Tunisia`s interior minister said.

Authorities have blamed the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigades, Tunisia`s main jihadist group, for a series of attacks, including the March massacre at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis that killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman. The Islamic State group has claimed that attack, however.

Tunisia has seen a surge in radical Islam since veteran president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in a 2011 revolution.

Dozens of members of the security forces have been killed since then in jihadist attacks.

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