Tunis - Two Tunisian soldiers were killed and three wounded in clashes with extremists near the Algerian border, Tunisia's defence ministry said on Monday, days after Tunisian mediators won the Nobel Peace Prize for averting civil war.
A group linked to al-Qaeda's North Africa branch, the Oqba Ibnou Nafaa brigade, claimed responsibility for the killings, according to the SITE group, which monitors extremist activities.
The soldiers were conducting a sweep of the Mt Samama area after the kidnapping of a shepherd, said defence ministry spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Belhassen Oueslati.
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The area is near Mt Chaambi in western Tunisia, where dozens of security forces have died battling Islamic extremists.
The violence is a reminder of the fragility of the peace in Tunisia celebrated by this year's Nobel. A quartet of mediators was awarded for bridging disputes between Islamist and opposition legislators. Tunisia remains the only country to have emerged from Arab Spring uprisings with a functioning democracy, but has seen deadly attacks on tourists this year.