Islamists, Guardsmen in Tunis shoot-out

2014-02-03 23:04
A Tunisian soldier stands guard. (Fethi Belaid, AFP)

A Tunisian soldier stands guard. (Fethi Belaid, AFP)

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Tunis - Tunisian security forces on Monday traded gunfire with presumed Islamist militants in a suburb of the capital, the interior ministry said.

"Special units of the National Guard have surrounded a house where a terrorist group is located," in the Raoued area, ministry spokesperson Mohamed Ali Laroui told reporters.

"There was an exchange of fire, and efforts have been made to try and take them alive... (but) they don't won't to give themselves up," he said, adding that there were at least three militants inside.

"We're trying to wrap up the operation successfully and then we'll give more details about the identity of these people and the organisation they belong to," Laroui added.

Witnesses reached by AFP said they had heard gunshots and had seen members of the security forces deploy in Raoued, several kilometres from a popular beach in a Tunis suburb.

National Guard spokesperson Tarek al-Amraoui told Tunisian television that the security forces had arrived after receiving information about the activities of the group which he said was "heavily armed".

Since the 2011 revolution, Tunisia has been rocked by sporadic violence linked to militant Islamists who were suppressed under the regime of ousted strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The authorities blamed the separate killings last year of opposition politicians Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi on Ansar al-Sharia, a radical Salafist group with alleged ties to al-Qaeda.

Also in 2013, around 20 members of the security forces were killed during operations targeting a group of extremists holed up in the Chaambi mountain region along the border with Algeria.

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