The Uqba bin Nafi Battalion has taken responsibility for today's attack in Tunisia. The attack, which was launched before dawn, left four members of the Tunisian national guard dead. The attack was targeting a Tunisian military checkpoint in the Chaambi region near the Algerian border.
According to Al Jazeera, 20 fighters from Uqba attacked the checkpoint killing the four soldiers. The fighters then stole the soldiers' weapons before fleeing. Al Jazeera quoted the Tunisian Prime Minister as saying that this was a "cowardly terrorist attack." The Prime Minister goes on to say that, "we will chase the terrorists, the assassins, into their hideouts in order to exterminate them and clean up the country."
Uqba has been behind several attacks in Tunisia in the recent past. In July 2014, the group was responsible for an attack in the Chaambi Mountains that left 14 Tunisian soldiers dead and 20 others wounded. Additionally, on Dec. 18, the group published photos showing its spoils of war gained from attacks on the Tunisian military. In that same document, they also claimed two attacks on the Tunisian military. You can read my reporting of this over at The Long War Journal, by clicking here.
Uqba is a joint project between al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Ansar al Sharia Tunisia (AST). The group was originally formed to recruit Tunisians for AQIM and then giving them rudimentary training before sending them to more advanced AQIM training camps in Algeria, Libya, or Mali. While some have said that Uqba has defected to the Islamic State, this does not appear to be the case.
Last month I took a look at Uqba and its connections to other groups. My friend and colleague Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, confirmed to me that even from the beginnings of the group, "it was extraordinarily clear where its allegiance lies." He continued by telling me that being a joint project between AQIM and AST, it should be clear that its allegiance is to AQIM. You can read more about Uqba and its connections by clicking here.