Islamist militants behead Tunisian policeman near Algerian border

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Monday, December 1, 2014

Islamist militants beheaded an off-duty Tunisian policeman late on Sunday after he was kidnapped with his brother near the Algerian border a few days earlier, officials said on Monday.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Laroui said the policeman was seized along with his brother by 10 militants who attacked the car they were traveling in.

The attack happened on Thursday but is only being reported just now.

The brothers were in a car in al-Kef area, northwest of the country, when gunmen seeking to rob them stopped their vehicle.

During the robbery, the attackers discovered that one of the brothers was in the police.

The policeman’s brother was not harmed, but the militants beheaded Hassan Solatani in Touirif district in al-Kef area, Laroui said.

Deadly ambushes by gunmen on the police and army are common in the region, where cross-border smuggling of fuel and food is also rife.

Security forces are now engaged in a mopping up operation in the mountainous area, which is close to the frontier with Algeria, to hunt down Islamists in the area, where last month five officers were killed in an ambush on a bus carrying soldiers.

Among the militant groups operating in Tunisia is Ansar al-Sharia, which the United States considers a terrorist organization and accused of orchestrating the storming of the US embassy in Tunis in 2012.

Meanwhile, the government has tightened security as it prepares for a presidential election runoff this month between incumbent Moncef Marzouki and veteran politician Beji Caid Essebsi, the leader of secular Nida Tounes Party.

The date of the runoff is due to be announced on Tuesday.

Since the uprising that ousted former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, Tunisia has seen a proliferation of extremists suppressed under the former autocratic president and the emergence of militant groups.

These groups have been blamed for a wave of attacks, including dozens of Tunisian soldiers and police and the assassination last year of two opposition lawmakers whose murders plunged the country into a protracted political crisis.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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