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Suspected militants arrested in Tunisian raids

Security forces arrest 16 suspects and kill another who tried to flee as well as seizing weapons as parliament debates tougher anti-terror laws
Members of the Tunisian parliament are debating introducing tougher anti-terrorism laws following a series of attacks in the country (AFP)

Tunisian forces killed one suspected militant and arrested 16 others in a series of operations, the government said on Friday, as parliamentarians considered tougher anti-terrorism laws following a spate of attacks.

Security forces launched an operation on Thursday in Sejnane, in the northern Bizerte region, "against terrorists preparing terrorist acts," according to the interior ministry.

It added that 13 suspects had been arrested and that one person was killed when they tried to flee the scene.

Another raid was launched on Friday at dawn in the town of Menzel Bourguiba, resulting in three further arrests.

The ministry said weapons including explosives, ammunition and several assault rifles were seized during the operations.

Tunisia has faced a series of extremist attacks in 2015, including a massacre at a Tunis museum in March that killed 22 people, mostly tourists, and a mass killing at a beach resort last month that left 38 foreigners dead.

The attacks, both claimed by the Islamic State group, have impacted heavily on Tunisia's vital tourism sector.

Authorities have pledged to crack down on extremism and members of parliament on Thursday voted heavily in favour of imposing the death penalty for those convicted of "terrorist" crimes, despite opposition from right groups and a de facto quarter-century moratorium on executions.

Other elements of a new terrorism bill under discussion include making it easier for investigators to use phone-tapping against suspects and make public expressions of support for terrorism a jailable offence.