Tunisian policeman and Islamist militants killed in clash
Tunisian police officers stand guard in Tunis on January 18, 2013. [tunisia-live]
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During a police raid on a house in Tunis, a Tunisian policeman and two Islamist militants were killed. Explosives, weapons and suicide bomb belts were found, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.
When police surrounded the house in Raoued late Monday evening, a gun battle erupted. Raoued is located in the northern suburb of the capital. The raid was in an attempt to arrest a group of suspected militants hiding in the home.
“They had suicide bomb belts and explosive material and they were well-armed,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said. He did not name the group to which the men belonged.
Knowing the leadership of the Islamist Ansar-al-Shariah faction’s allegiance to Al Qaeda, Tunisian armed forces have cracked down on the group. Washington has listed the group as a terrorist organization.
Friday marks the celebration of Tunisia’s new constitution, with French President Francois Hollande and other diplomats invited to the ceremony. This step will mark the North African country’s steps towards democracy.
One of the government new main challenges is the threat of Islamist militancy. A beach resort suicide bombing in 2013 magnified the need for attention to the issue and magnified Tunisia’s vulnerability.
In the midst of the Syrian and Libyan crisis, some Tunisian militants have used situation to get weapons and training. Some have also travelled to Syria to fight for Islamist rebel groups in the civil war there.