TUNIS, Nov 23, (AFP): A jihadist group claimed the beheading of a young Tunisian shepherd on behalf of Islamic State, accusing him of having informed the army about their movements in the central province of Sidi Bouzid, in a video posted on the Internet Sunday. The killing of 16-year-old Mabrouk Soltani on Nov 13 sparked anger in Tunisia.
His killers ordered a 14-yearold who was working with him to bring the victim’s head wrapped in plastic to his family. The video, the authenticity of which could not be confirmed, claimed the young shepherd gave information on “the soldiers of the Islamic State” to the Tunisian army. “This is the fate of all those in the ranks of the tyrants of Tunisia against Jund al-Khilafa (the soldiers of the caliphate),” the video said, written in Arabic. Jund al-Khilafa is the Tunisian branch of IS. The video then shows the shepherd, looking scared, answering questions from a speaker whose voice seems to have been altered. With his hands tied behind his back, the boy claims to have been paid by a soldier to monitor the activities of jihadists in the area.
The jihadist claims the boy “squealed” on them for money while the young shepherd insists that he has none. The video ends with the killing of the boy and a song threatening to “come to decapitate” others. According to the Tunisian authorities, Soltani was murdered by jihadists as he was tending his sheep on Mount Mghila. Last month, another civilian, also a shepherd, was abducted and killed by jihadists in the central-west province of Kasserine.
Tunisia has faced an upsurge in jihadist violence since its 2011 revolution, but security forces are usually the target. Several dozen soldiers and police have lost their lives in attacks, most of which are claimed by Al-Qaeda’s North African branch. IS claimed an attack that killed 38 foreign tourists at a seaside resort near Sousse in June, and another that killed 21 foreigners and a policeman in Tunis in March. In mid-November authorities arrested seven women accused of posting propaganda on the Internet on behalf of Jund al-Khilafa.