Skip to main content

Algerian militants implicated in attack on Tunisian minister

Preliminary investigations into Wednesday's attack find Algerians among assailants, as allegations fly at home and abroad
Lotfi Ben Jeddou, the interior minister whose house was targeted on Wednesday (AFP)

Algerian terrorists were among those who attacked the Tunisian interior minister’s house on Wednesday, the Tunisian News Agency reported on Friday.

The Court of First Instance, which is investigating the deaths of four soldiers in the attack, said 15 assailants targeted the minister’s house in Kasserine, at the foot of the troubled Mount Chaambi region on the Tunisia-Algeria border.

According to the court’s spokesperson, the 15 militants were also responsible for a deadly attack in Mount Chaambi last July, an ambush that saw nine soldiers killed.

Wednesday saw Tunisia’s Defence Ministry announce the signing of a military agreement with Algeria, aimed at helping the countries to share experience and combat terrorism in border areas, according to reports in Vetogate.

Following the signing and the subsequent attack in Kasserine, Algeria raised the security alert on its border with Tunisia to the third and highest level, “as a precaution against the infiltration of any terrorists from Tunisia”, reports Tunisian site Assabah News.

After the attack, Wednesday was declared a national day of mourning in Tunisia, with President Moncef Marzouki ordering that flags be hung at half-mast throughout the country.

The National Union of Internal Security Forces also announced a mourning period of three days after the attack.

The group is organising a demonstration in the capital Tunis on 31 May, in an event titled “Union strike in front of the Interior Ministry to denounce the policy of procrastination.”

Ben Jeddou, who was not in his house at the time of the attack, publicly blamed the previous prime minister Beji Caid el-Sebsi for the recent upsurge in militant activity in an interview on Thursday.

Ben Jeddou told al-Arabiya that “hundreds of takfiri [extremists]” were released during Sebsi’s 2011 policy of legal amnesty for prisoners held during the regime of former President Ben Ali.

On Friday a security source said forces had arrested two brothers suspected of involvement in Wednesday’s attack, while three others detained late on Thursday were released, reports Radio Diwan.

Friday morning also saw a Tunisian soldier wounded in a mine explosion on Mount Chaambi, according to Touwensa news site.