Tunisia’s prime minister made the announcement yesterday, as tens of thousands of Tunisians marched through the capital Tunis to denounce extremist violence.
Reports quoted prime minister Habib Essid as saying that Khaled Chaieb, also known as Abou Sakhr Lokman, was one of nine terror suspects killed overnight in an operation near the Algerian border.
Chaieb is believed to be a prominent Algerian militant in al-Qaeda’s North African arm and is suspected of leading or helping lead the 18 March attack on the National Bardo Museum.
An image on the Tunisian interior ministry’s Facebook page shows Chaieb, who it says was killed in the western region of Gafsa.
A spokesman described him as one of Tunisia’s “most dangerous terrorists”.
Security officials alleged that the militants were members of the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade, a jihadist group that has previously claimed deadly attacks against security forces in the country.
In the past week, authorities claim to have arrested dozens of people they suspected of links to the museum attack
Two gunmen and 22 visitors, mainly foreigners, were killed in the museum attack.
French president François Hollande and several foreign ministers and politicians from other countries yesterday joined an anti-terrorism ceremony in Tunis after the march from the seat of government at Bab Es-Saadoun to the museum.
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets chanting “Tunisia is free! Terrorism out!” as they marched to the Bardo National Museum.
Demonstrators waved Tunisian flags and held up slogans of “Not Afraid” and “We Are Bardo” along the route, surrounded by a heavy security presence.
“We have shown we are a democratic people. Tunisians are moderate, and there is no room for terrorists here,” demonstrator Kamel Saads said.
Some leftist political groups chose to boycott the rally. They objected to the participation of an Islamic party, which they hold accountable for the rise of Islamic extremism in the country.
Yesterday Mr Hollande announced that Huguette Dupeu, a Frenchwoman injured in the attack, had died from her wounds.
As well as the French leader, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and other foreign dignitaries attended a ceremony at the museum where a stone tablet was dedicated to the memory of the attack victims.
Speaking at the ceremony Mr Hollande pledged France’s support.
“We had four French citizens killed there, victims of terrorism, so it was necessary to participate in this march,” he said.”
The international visitors were showing solidarity with Tunisia, whose fragile new democracy was deeply shaken by the museum attack, for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.