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TUNIS (Reuters) - A Tunisian soldier was killed after Islamist militants tried to storm an army base early on Sunday in the town of Sbitla near the Algerian border, the Tunisian government said on Sunday.

Militant assaults on the Tunisian army have become more frequent in recent months. Since April, thousands of troops have been deployed to the mountainous Chaambi region on the border with Algeria where fighters fleeing a French military intervention in Mali last year have taken refuge.

At least 15 soldiers have been killed in attacks on military checkpoints in the area.

"A group of armed terrorists tried to storm a military base and units from the army and the security forces fought them," a statement from the defence and interior ministries said.

"One soldier was killed and one civilian was wounded," the statement added.

Tunisia's state radio reported earlier on Sunday that militants had also attacked Sbitla's police station.

Tunisia has been fighting Islamist militants, including those from the al Qaeda offshoot Ansar al-Sharia, since an uprising toppled the former ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali nearly four years ago.

But with growing chaos in neighbours Libya and in Mali, Tunisia has struggled to stop the flow of militants and weapons into its territory.

(Reporting by Mohamed Argoubi; Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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