Tunisia pays tribute to security forces killed in jihadist attack

2018-07-10 13:12
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Tunisia paid tribute on Monday to six members of its security forces killed the day before along the border with Algeria in the country's bloodiest jihadist attack in more than two years.

The attack comes as Tunisia prepares for what it hopes will be a surge in tourism after a spate of jihadist attacks in 2015 sent visitor numbers plunging.

After the ceremony at the national guard base close to the capital, hundreds of people watched as several of the dead were laid to rest.

A large procession led by members of the armed forces accompanied the body of guardsman Arbi Guizeni through the Tunis suburb of Douar Hicher.

The six national guard members were killed, and three others wounded, when their cars were attacked on Sunday morning with an improvised explosive device in the Ain Sultan area of the Jendouba border province.

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The three wounded guards were transferred to a military hospital in Tunis and their condition was stable on Monday, said guard spokesperson Colonel Houssemeddine Jebabli.

He said search operations launched on Sunday were continuing but no arrests had been made.

Okba Ibn Nafaa, a Tunisia-based division of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), late on Sunday claimed responsibility for the attack and said it had killed nine soldiers, according to the SITE Intelligence Group that monitors jihadist activity online.

Okba Ibn Nafaa and the Tunisian branch of the Islamic State group, Jund al-Khilafa (Soldiers of the Caliphate), are active in the mountainous border region where the attack took place.

Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi on television on Monday evening called for unity, saying "we want solidarity among the people which is not the case."

He also announced there would be a security council meeting on Tuesday to shed light on the attack.

Sunday's assault was the bloodiest in Tunisia since a March 2016 attack on security installations in the town of Ben Guerdane on the Libyan border.

That attack killed 13 security forces and seven civilians.

Tunisia's tourism industry is still rebounding from a string of devastating attacks in 2015, including one at the National Bardo museum in Tunis and another targeting a beach resort in Sousse that together killed 59 foreign tourists and a Tunisian guard.

In May, Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi Rekik said the industry had made a "real recovery".

Since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, jihadist attacks in Tunisia have killed dozens of members of the security forces and foreign tourists.

The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when an ISIS-claimed suicide bombing in Tunis killed 12 presidential guards.

Read more on:    isis  |  tunisia  |  north africa
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