A suspected member of Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) detained in Libya has claimed two Tunisian journalists held captive by the terrorists were killed. Abderrazek Nassef Abderrazek Ali claimed he witnessed the execution of the two journalists in a forest outside the eastern town of Derna, which was controlled by IS.

Blogger Sofiene Chourabi and photographer Nadhir Ktari went missing in 2014. IS claimed in January 2015 it had killed the pair.

However, the Tunisian government said it had evidence that the two journalists were still alive.

Ali, detained in eastern Libya, told the Al-Hadath Al-Libya channel the two journalists had been captured at an IS roadblock between the towns of Ajdabiya and Labraq and then taken to Derna. He claimed the men were executed following an IS "court" order, AFP reported.

On Sunday (8 January), Tunisia's foreign ministry said it was trying to verify the authenticity of Ali's claim through legal and diplomatic channels in coordination with Libya, AFP reported.

The parents and relatives of the pair have conducted a long campaign for information from the Tunisian government on the fate of the journalists.

The United Nations has estimated at least 5,000 Tunisians have joined IS in Libya.

The group controls swathes of Syria, Iraq and Libya and is trying to establish a foothold in other parts of Africa, leveraging its alliances with Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists and Somali militants formerly loyal to al-Qaeda terror group.

Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Ktari
A woman raises a picture of the Tunisian blogger Sofiene Chourabi and photographer Nadhir Ktari missing in Libya since September 2014 Chedly Ben Ibrahim/Getty Images