Suspected extremists slit throat of Tunisian policeman

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Sunday, January 4, 2015

Suspected Islamist extremists slit the throat of a Tunisian policeman south of the capital overnight, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Since the uprising that ousted former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, Tunisia has seen a rise in Islamist extremism and tackling it is one of the main challenges facing the country's first freely elected President Beji Caid Essebsi who was sworn in on Wednesday.

The policeman "had his throat slit and was stabbed in the heart in Zaghouan province as he was returning from work in the capital," a ministry statement said.

It said that a preliminary investigation suggested he had been killed by an Islamist extremist group and that nine suspects had been arrested.

Since 2011, extremist 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.

In late November, an off-duty policeman was abducted and decapitated in the Kef area close to the Algerian border.

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.

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 in November 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.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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