Forest camps hid Qaeda-linked networks

Comment on this story
Tunisia flag .

Tunis, Tunisia - Two forest camps near Tunisia's shared border with Algeria hid al-Qaida-linked networks that trained young men for fighting and organized the travel of already-seasoned fighters looking to carry out attacks elsewhere, Tunisia's top security official said Friday.

A police officer who stumbled upon one of the sites early this month died in a shootout with the militants, and his discovery led to 16 arrests and the dismantling of the two nascent cells.

Security forces seized explosives, guns and maps, as well combat gear and coded documents from one of the groups, which Interior Minister Ali Larayedh said was led by three Algerians with ties to the head of al-Qaida's North African offshoot AQIM. They had been active for about three months in the national forest in central Tunisia preparing young Tunisian men, including many who wanted to go to Libya and Algeria for fighting and more paramilitary training, he said.

The second group was discovered in another national forest in northern Tunisia, about 200 kilometers (100 miles) away, apparently with the sole purpose of moving experienced militants from Libya to Algeria, he said. Both camps were near the border with Algeria, and authorities there and in Libya cooperated in the investigation, Larayedh said.

“We strongly believe there are links between these two groups,” Larayedh said.

A branch of al-Qaida is active in Algeria and has occasionally crossed into Tunisia, where hardline Islamists are on the rise since the ousting of a secular president in 2011. - Sapa-AP

sign up

Comment Guidelines

  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

  5. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. You are only required to verify your email address once to have full access to commenting on articles. For more information please read our comment guidelines