June 3, 2017 / 4:09 PM / 2 months ago

Tunisia militants behead shepherd near Algeria border - sources

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TUNIS, June 3 (Reuters) - Islamist militants kidnapped and beheaded a young shepherd in Tunisian mountains near the border with Algeria, less than two years after his brother was killed in the same way, security sources and residents told TAP state news agency on Saturday.

Troops found the body of Khelifa Soltani near Sidi Bouzid after he had been snatched by militants on Friday, sources told Reuters. They gave no reason why he was abducted.

Tunisian forces are carrying out operations in Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine and the Chaambi mountain range bordering Algeria to flush out Okba Ibn Nafaa, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, as well as a small number of rival fighters allied to Islamic State.

In November 2015, Soltani's brother Mabrouk was also kidnapped by militants who accused him of spying for the army in the region. He was killed and his head was sent back to the family as a warning, security sources said at the time.

More than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight for Islamic State and other jihadist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya over the last four years. Authorities are preparing for many of them to return as jihadist groups face defeat in Iraq and Syria. (Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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