TUNIS, Tunisia – Tunisia's interior minister said the government has killed an extremist leader and nearly wiped out his group, as European tourists continue to leave the country amid fears of new attacks.
Interior Minister Najem Gharsalli told reporters late Sunday night that recent security operations have targeted key members of the al-Qaida-linked Oqba Ibn Nafaa brigade. He said that one of the five people killed in an operation Friday was brigade leader Mourad Gharsalli, accused of links to prominent warlords in Algeria and Mali.
The Tunisian minister called the operation a major security success.
Tunisia, the only country to succeed in building a democracy after Arab Spring uprisings, is trying to defuse criticism from Britain and others that it hasn't done enough to protect tourists. Islamic extremists killed 60 people in attacks on a beach resort and major museum in recent months.
The interior minister said the brigade was plotting attacks in Tunisia and sending Tunisians to fight jihad abroad.
The brigade, based in the mountains near the Algerian border, is allied with al-Qaida's North African branch.