2 killed as Tunisian forces, gunmen clash

2012-02-02 16:43
Tunis - Tunisian forces killed two gunmen and captured a third after clashes on Wednesday night with what appeared to be a group of Islamists smuggling weapons in the east of the country, several security and government sources said.

Five Tunisian security forces were also wounded in the fighting near the industrial port city of Sfax, 237km southeast of Tunis, and police and military had cordoned off the area, security sources said.

The clashes were the first to take place in Tunisia since elections in October ushered in a government dominated by moderate Islamist group Ennahda and two secular partners.

Tunisia's interior ministry forces were shaken by the revolt that ousted Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and brought down his police state a year ago and secularist groups have accused Ennahda of being too soft on armed militants and religious extremists.

Mohammed al-Tunsi, a National Guard official, had said the three gunmen appeared to be Salafis, ultra-conservative Islamists, but Interior Minister Ali Larayed, a senior member of Ennahda, told reporters on Wednesday night it was too early to identify them.

He described the incident as "dangerous" and promised more details on Thursday.

Larayed said a large stash of assault rifles and ammunition had been discovered in the vehicle the three men were travelling in. The gunmen abandoned their car and hid in the surrounding countryside where they exchanged fire with police and military for several hours while a helicopter buzzed overhead.

A spokesman for President Moncef al-Marzouki told state television he believed the gunmen were part of a 20-strong gang that smuggled weapons through Tunisia.

Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring protests that swept the region in 2011, has made a relatively smooth transition to an elected constituent assembly that will draft a new constitution for the country.

However, protests and strikes have continued in the centre of the country, where unemployment remains high, and security forces are under pressure to do more to rein in Salafis who have asserted themselves since the uprising and to secure the borders with Algeria and Libya.

Read more on:    north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.