Tunisia, Algeria join hands against terrorism

By Jamel Arfaoui in Tunis for Magharebia

Tunisia and Algeria are working together to eliminate terrorist groups holed up along their shared border.

The Tunisian army has launched a series of attacks in the remote Jebel Chaambi area, while Algeria lined up 10,000 soldiers to monitor the borders and prevent terrorists from escaping the siege.

“The exchange of information between Tunisian and Algerian agencies about the movements of terrorists is very important to the success of the operation,” former defence ministry spokesperson Brigadier-General Mokhtar Ben Nasr said.

Friday night, three terrorists from Jebel Chaambi were killed after crossing the border into Algeria following an exchange of fire that lasted nearly an hour, El Khabar reported.

The terrorists, all Tunisian, were killed north of Bir El Ater. The army would have preferred to capture them alive to obtain more information on the terrorist group hiding in Jebel Chaambi, according the daily.

The Tunisian army also killed 10 terrorists in Jebel Chaambi and arrested three others in the region of Ouled Nasrallah, Kasserine province. A fourth terrorist was seriously wounded in the operation.

On Friday, the army launched a major assault on Jebel Chaambi, where eight soldiers were slaughtered days earlier by al-Qaeda-linked extremists.

“A group of security and intelligence officers from Tunisia and Algeria began the investigation about the activity of terrorist groups across the land border between the two countries,” El Khabar reported on Saturday (August 3rd).

“The on-going operations will be launched in phases on the ground and from the air,” the Algerian daily said. “Tunisian forces will be thrice the forces that participated in the sweeping of the area in the spring of this year, in addition to at least 4,000 Algerian military forces.”

Tunisian and Algerian intelligence services want to know whether al-Qaeda allies Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) has moved from Mali to Tunisia, security expert Kais Ouerghi said.

“It is not unlikely,” Ouerghi added, “that this organisation has taken the Libyan city of Derna as a rear base.”

“They have the best equipment with the proliferation of weapons in Libya after the fall of the Kadhafi regime. This includes weapons of various sizes, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles,’ he added.

The Tunisian foreign ministry has confirmed “bilateral co-operation and continuous field security co-ordination between Tunisia and all countries in the region, especially our sister country Algeria”.

“This is due to the volume of joint security challenges before us today and the gravity of the implications for the stability of our countries,” the ministry said last Friday.

Many social network pages are adorned with both Tunisian and Algerian flags in reference to the security co-operation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism.

“The Algerian flag is dear to all Tunisians, and we will not forget this favour,” Sana Wahaibi, a student in her twenties, said.

“There is a shared history between Tunisia and Algeria. They are proud of it as much as we are,” housewife Soumia Hanashi added.

Maghrebia http://magharebia.com/en_GB/articles/awi/features/2013/08/05/feature-01

Un incendie s’est déclenché à Jebel Chaambi

Un incendie s’est déclenché à  Jebel Chaambi suite à l’utilisation de munitions réelles lors d’une opération de ratissage.

L’incendie s’est déclenché à un kilomètre du portail de la réserve et plus précisément dans la région Henchir Talla qui a connu 8 assassinats de militaires, il s’est propagé pour atteindre une grande surface de la réserve et ce en raison de la chaleur et des herbes sèches         31-07-2013

Mosaique FM 

Gunmen ambush Tunisia army, killing 8 soldiers in militant mountain stronghold

July 29, 2013

By BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA  Associated Press

TUNIS, Tunisia — Gunmen ambushed a Tunisian army patrol Monday in a mountainous border region known as an Islamic militant stronghold, killing at least eight soldiers, the presidential spokesman said.

Daily Reporter


Attaque terroriste contre une patrouille miliaire à Châambi: un bilan provisoire fait état de 9 morts

Publié par Mhamed Ben Sassi le 29 juillet 2013 à 19:31

Une patrouille militaire a été attaquée, cet après-midi, par des tirs de feu à Jebel Châambi. Selon Mosaïque FM qui a rapporté l’information, cette attaque aurait fait des victimes. Un hélicoptère est en train de survoler la zone. La situation est encore confuse. Selon un premier bilan, 9 mort et 3 blessés, dont trois ont été égorgés, précise la même source.

à lire continue http://www.webdo.tn/2013/07/29/attaque-terroriste-contre-une-patrouille-miliaire-a-chaambi/

Jebel Chaambi operations continue

Tunisian Interim Prime Minister Ali Larayedh acknowledged on Monday (July 22nd) that the terror threat in Jebel Chaambi was not yet over.

“Army and security units are still pursuing through various methods terrorist groups entrenched in Jebel Chaambi in order to monitor their movements,” the prime minister revealed during an interview with four local radio stations.

Larayedh said that no arrests had been made in Jebel Chaambi, though people with suspected ties to the al-Qaeda linked group and others carrying weapons were arrested in various parts of the country.

The prime minister also refused to elaborate on the warnings made by Algeria about the possibility that the Signed in Blood Brigade led by Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar might conduct operations in Tunisia. However he stressed, “Security co-operation between the two countries is continuing, especially in the area of intelligence sharing.”

Tunisia has been suffering terrorist threats in Jebel Chaambi since April, an area adjacent to the Algerian border. Despite great efforts still being carried out by the gendarmerie and the army, the threat remains.

In May, the interior ministry revealed that the militants were associated with al-Qaeda’s Okba Ibn Nafaa brigade.

A poll conducted by EMROD Consulting and released on July 2nd revealed that more than 45 per cent of Tunisians believe that the threat of terrorism still exists in the country.

Former Tunisian Army chief General Rachid Ammar complained about the absence of sufficient information to lay hands on the terrorist group. He resigned last month citing age, but some speculated the unexpected departure was due to events in Jebel Chaambi.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rachid Sabbagh called on July 2nd for the launching of a national security structure in Tunisia in order to meet challenges and changes taking place in the country.

Sabbagh, who was overseeing the handover ceremony of diplomas to graduates of the Institute of National Defence, has promised to develop a legal framework for intelligence as well as for defence and security. He noted the need to connect security with development, and to provide a security plan involving neighbouring countries in border security.

“The launch of a National Security Council is a vital necessity for a country going through major changes, especially in light of the regional conditions that could threaten Tunisian national security,” according to Tarek Ghiloufi, a strategic expert.

Security specialist Mounir Belgaied told Magharebia that “the decision to disband internal security forces after the revolution under the pretext that they were political police was a grave mistake and left a security and intelligence vacuum.”

“This was exploited by a large number of extremists to threaten and terrorise Tunisians. The best proof is the failure of our troops to lay hands on the Chaambi terrorist group,” Belgaied said.

On July 2nd during his supervision of the regular meeting of the security council, Larayedh said that continued vigilance was needed, stressing the role citizens play in the process.

“The security council stressed in its meeting a better distribution of security units, and their full readiness and presence across the territory, particularly at the level of the borders,” TAP quoted Larayedh as saying.

Troubles in the Jebel Chaambi, two more Tunisian Soldiers killed

Jebel Chaambi terrorists claim more lives

By Yasmine Najjar and Monia Ghanmi in Tunis for Magharebia – 07/06/2013

Two Tunisian army officers were killed Thursday (June 6th) in the Jebel Chaambi region, the defence ministry confirmed, calling it “a serious development”.

The home-made bomb exploded during the ongoing military campaign to hunt down terrorists holed up in the mountain forests near Algeria.

This latest incident in Dhogra “targeted all those who use the track, whether citizens, military or security personnel”, the defence ministry said, urging “all citizens to be cautious and deal positively with the military and security forces to protect the country and people against this imminent danger”.

Some 45 suspects have been arrested in connection with the terrorism in Jebel Chaambi. Saber Mechri, owner of the storehouse where a large quantity of weapons was found in Mnihla, was among the detainees.

Members of radical salafist group Ansar al-Sharia are among the militants fighting Tunisian forces in the mountains, the interior ministry said.

“Those involved in Jebel Chaambi events include Kamel Gadhgadhi, presumed killer of prominent opposition leader Chokri Belaid, and Abou Iyadh, leader of Tunisia’s jihadist salafists who is wanted for planning the attack on the US embassy,” the interior ministry said.

On Thursday morning, specialised security units raided the Hammam-Lif home of Abou Iyadh (real name Seif Allah Ibn Hussein) but the fugitive was not there.

Also on Thursday, Defence Minister Rachid Sabbagh confirmed that “terrorist elements holed up in Jebel Chaambi in Kasserine province are about to move”, adding that “they receive assistance from other entities”.

Army forces would soon receive “new equipment and devices to monitor landmines and track these terrorist elements”, he added.

For his part, Prime Minister Ali Larayedh said that Tunisia’s “position from terrorism and criminality hasn’t changed, but has even grown firmer”.

“We’ll continue with our efforts until we dismantle this terrorist group and all those who have a proven link to these events. We’ll also develop our counter-terrorism methods and plans,” Larayedh said.

A key part of the strategy to combat the extremists includes revamping the country’s counter-terror laws.

In that vein, a rights committee has been working for months on refining the counter-terrorism law by incorporating respect of human rights and international treaties signed by Tunisia, which provide guarantees for a fair trial.

At a seminar on the topic last week, Human Rights Minister Samir Dilou said that his ministry would speed up the bill drafting and refer it to the government and Constituent Assembly for revision and approval.

The current statute dates back to 2003. But the law has faced criticism for alleged over-reach during the regime of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In a statement released May 23rd, the interior ministry said seven extremists were charged under the law for allegedly killing an officer on May 2nd in Jebel Jelloud, south of Tunis.

But activist groups, including Human Rights Watch, have said that the law carries loose definitions of terrorism and undermines defendants’ rights.