Tue, Aug 06, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Terror suspect killed, plot foiled: Tunis

‘VERY DANGEROUS’:Police also arrested a suspect in the murder of opposition politician Mohammed Brahmi, which has plunged the country into political turmoil

AFP, TUNIS

Protesters chant slogans on Sunday in Tunis, Tunisia, in front of the Constituent Assembly headquarters against the country’s Islamist government.

Photo: AFP

Tunisia said security forces killed a “terror” suspect in a dawn raid on Sunday and separately foiled a political assassination similar to the one that has plunged the country into crisis.

The announcements came after rival protests for and against the Islamist-led coalition government, with the opposition demanding the resignation of the Cabinet and the dissolution of the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly.

The calls have mounted since the murder nearly two weeks ago of opposition Tunisian Member of Parliament Mohammed Brahmi, the second anti-government politician gunned down in Tunis after Chokri Belaid was assassinated in February.

Officials have said the same gun was used in both killings and pointed the blame at jihadists.

On Sunday, Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh announced the first arrest of a suspect in the Belaid case, without elaborating further.

He also called for jihadist militants hiding out near the Algerian border to surrender.

“Hand over your arms, turn yourselves in to police and then police and society will take that into account,” he said, as quoted by state news agency TAP.

The Tunisian Ministry of the Interior said the dawn raid targeted a house in the southern Tunis suburb of Ouardia, where a group of “key terror” suspects was hiding.

Later on Sunday, Tunisian Minister of the Interior Lotfi Ben Jeddou said that the security forces had arrested Ezzedine Abdelaoui, who is suspected of involvement in Belaid’s murder, during the raid.

Overnight, the ministry said police had foiled a new bid to assassinate a political figure and that two “very dangerous terrorists” had been arrested and guns and grenades seized.

The minister also detailed other security operations, including the arrest of a man suspected of planning a suicide bombing and the apprehension of three “religious extremists” preparing an attack on a bank.

The security operations came as Tunisia’s moderate Islamist an-Nahda party was battling to defend its position as the head of a governing coalition after winning an October 2011 election.

Government critics have accused an-Nahda of failing to rein in rampant violence blamed on radical Islamists since the 2011 uprising that ousted former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Late on Saturday, tens of thousands of an-Nahda backers turned out for a rally in Tunis called by the party to voice their support for the embattled government.

A coalition of opposition parties has called for a massive rally today to demand the departure of the government and the dissolution of the national assembly.

Larayedh, who has already proposed a broader coalition and general elections for December, on Saturday reiterated that his government would not step down, and told a news conference Tunisia needs “national unity.”

However, dozens of deputies have boycotted the assembly since Brahmi’s murder, further delaying the drawing up of a new post-revolution constitution.

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