Tunisia says a wanted militant has been killed and three other arrested in a late-night operation around the capital.
Tunisian Ministry of the Interior spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui says counter-terrorist forces assaulted the house of the suspect just before midnight on Saturday.
Aroui yesterday said that in the ensuing exchange of fire, Ahmed Melki, known as the “Somali,” was killed and three others were arrested.
Melki was wanted for involvement in several attacks, including the assassination of opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi on July 25 last year.
Brahmi was the second of two opposition politicians to have been assassinated last year by suspected jihadists as Islamist violence rocked the North African country, which was the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011.
The ministry initially said only that Melki had been arrested.
The security forces “surrounded a house [near the capital, Tunis] where a terrorist group had holed up. Following a sustained exchange of fire, four elements were arrested,” Aroui said.
“Among them is Hmed el-Melki, alias ‘Somali,’ one of the elements implicated in the assassination of the martyr Mohamed Brahmi,” he said, adding that weapons were seized during the raid.
“The interior ministry stresses that it was a successful operation,” the spokesman said without revealing the identities of the other suspects.
The announcement came after the government said on Tuesday that the suspected Islamist assassin of opposition politician Chokri Belaid had been killed in a police raid. Gunmen killed Belaid on Feb. 6 last year. Like Brahmi, he was shot outside his home.
Authorities blamed the murders on the Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist outfit accused of links to al-Qaeda, but the group never claimed responsibility for those or any other attacks.
Belaid was a charismatic leftist politician and virulent critic of the Islamist party Ennahda then in power. His murder triggered massive anti-government protests and a crisis from which Tunisia has only recently started to emerge.
The two political assassinations eventually forced Ennahda to relinquish power last month in the face of accusations from the mainly secular opposition that it had failed to tackle a surge of Islamist extremism since the Arab Spring revolution of 2011.
Ennahda won Tunisia’s first free elections in October 2011, following the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in an uprising.
Speaking before the police raid on Monday last week, Belaid’s widow, Basma Khalfaoui, accused Ennahda of hiding key documents in the murder inquiry and said she was expecting strong measures from a government of independents that replaced the Islamist-led administration late last month.
“We don’t know anything [about what really happened]. All scenarios are possible,” she said.