A landmine blast killed two women and wounded a third on Monday near Mount Sammama, Tunisia’s defense ministry said, blaming “terrorist elements”.

Ministry spokesman Belhassen Oueslati told AFP the two were killed while gathering herbs when the home-made device exploded near the base of Mount Sammama in the Kasserine region, where a military operation is under way.

The third woman was seriously wounded and flown to hospital by military helicopter, he added.

The mine was probably laid by “terrorist elements,” Oueslati added. Intense military operations against jihadists holed up in the mountains have been ongoing for several days.

Demining formed part of the military operation, Oueslati said.

On Sunday, media reported “bombardments” in the area, which is close to the border with Algeria.

A soldier was wounded earlier this month when a mine exploded on Mount Sammama which is adjacent to Mount Chaambi.

Kasserine and Mount Chaambi have become the North African nation’s prime jihadist hideouts, including of the Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion, a group linked to al-Qaida.

Tunisia, the cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings, has been plagued by Islamist violence since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In March 2015, jihadist gunmen killed 21 tourists and a policeman at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis.

And in June, 30 Britons were among 38 foreign holidaymakers killed in a gun and grenade attack on a beach resort near the Tunisian city of Sousse.

A state of emergency has been in force since November 24, when a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group killed 12 presidential guards in central Tunis.

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AFP

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