28 May 2014

Tunisia: Attack Interrupts Tunisia's Newfound Calm

Unidentified gunman have attacked the family residence of Tunisia's interior minister, killing four policemen. Lofti Ben Jeddou was not at home. The assault interrupts several months of relative calm.

Tunisia's government said on Wednesday that four policemen had died during an attack in the western Kasserine region on the traditional family home of Interior Minister Lofti Ben Jeddou.

A ministry spokesman said Jeddou (pictured) was not at home at the time. He normally stays in the capital Tunis. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Four police officers were killed and another injured during a terrorist attack with Kalashnikov rifles that targeted the Kasserine home of the interior minister," said ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui.

Another policeman was wounded, he added.

A local resident said the assailants were hooded and had arrived in a pick-up truck.

Earlier this year, Tunisia's armed forces launched a sweep against suspected Islamist militants in the Chaambi mountains in Tunisia's western region close to the frontier with Algeria.

Symbolic fence removed in Tunis

The nighttime attack followed the recent removal in Tunis of a barbed wire fence that had barred access to the Interior Ministry building for more than three years.

The building had been the focal point of Tunisia's January 2011 revolution that resulted in the ousting of authoritarian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Jeddou had told the local TAP news agency on Tuesday that the removal of the barbed wire fence was a sign that "Tunisia is doing well."

Last year, an Islamist government was forced to step aside amid turmoil over the assassination of two opposition politicians.

A caretaker cabinet of technocrats and independents then took office in January led by new Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa.

Fresh elections are due later this year under a new constitution in line with a hard-won deal reached between secularists and Islamists.

Much of Tunisia's post-2011 violence was blamed on Ansar al-Sharia, a hardline Salafist movement accused of having links to Al-Qaeda.

(AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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