Tunisia suspects three soldiers defected to join IS

Tunis, (IANS) Three young soldiers from the southern Tunisian town of Remada left their homes and went to Libya, presumably to join the Islamic State (IS), defence ministry spokesman Belhassen Oueslati announced on Wednesday.

With this, 35 deserters have left for Libya in recent days from this same location, the southernmost part of the country and only a few kilometres from the Libyan border, Efe news agency reported.

The presumed defectors are three young soldiers, including one helicopter pilot, who failed to return to their posts after finishing their annual leave, Oueslati told the press.

Radio reports said that eight families in the town of about 5,000 inhabitants reported family members missing, and suspected that they were captured by the Libyan branch of the IS.

The three young men disappeared on Monday, according to other media reports, noting that they were students from a middle class background.

Twelve others disappeared in the same way several days ago; villagers have been quoted as saying they may have joined IS, as many of them were known for their extreme religious views.

Tunisia, along with France, is considered the biggest source of IS recruits, home to some 3,000 people who went to Iraq or Syria, according to official estimates, while some experts put the number at as high as 5,000.

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