MIDDLE EAST

One killed as Tunisian police clash with militants in the capital

Clashes erupted at a government building on Thursday in Kef, northern Tunisia, with protesters attacking two local party offices of Ennahda in Kef and Beja. (Reuters)

Suspected Islamist militants exchanged gunfire with Tunisian security forces in the capital Tunis on Friday, killing one person and wounding three, Al Arabiya television reported.

The violence came two days after similar clashes killed six police members and two militants in the central town of Sidi Bouzid.

Tunisian police found Thursday a car bomb readied for detonation in the city.

Tensions are rising in Tunisia where the Ennahda party and the opposition have been trying to start talks to put an end to a deadlock since the assassination of two opposition leaders earlier this year.

Demonstrations broke out over the killing of seven policemen by Islamist militants on Thursday as hundreds of people attempted to storm a building used by Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda party.

The violence on Friday saw bloodstains visible on the pavement at the scene, while police with sniffer dogs inspected a vehicle parked near the college to check for explosives.

“A terrorist was hit in the head, another arrested and one is on the run,” the policeman involved in the clash in Ennasr City district said, asking not to be named.

Clashes erupted at a government building in Kef, northern Tunisia on Thursday, with protesters attacking two local party offices of Ennahda in Kef and Beja, ransacking one and burning furniture in the street.

The walls of the buildings were burned, equipment inside it destroyed, with witnesses saying that protesters had ransacked the office in the morning.

The remains of charred documents and tires were strewn on the road outside the building, the second floor of which is occupied by the ruling Ennahda movement.

Demonstrators took to the streets in four other cities to demand the Ennahda government resign, residents said.

“Ennahda killed my son, I will not accept consolation only after the departure of Ennahda...They are destroying our country and kill our children and want to turn Tunisia into a new Sudan,” said the mother of Socrate Charni, one of the seven slain policemen.

The opposition demands that the country’s Ennahda-led government commit to resign from power within three weeks of the start of talks, in order to make way for an interim cabinet.

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh says Ennahda is ready to resign, but insists on the completion of the country’s new constitution, the establishment of an electoral commission and a clear election date before handing over power.

Talks are scheduled over the next three weeks to decide on a caretaker government and set a date for elections. But opposition leaders want Ennahda to be clearer about its intention to resign.

Tunisia’s democratic transition has effectively been choked by disputes between the Islamist-led coalition and the opposition, nearly three years after President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown.

Since Ben Ali’s ouster, the country has been destabilized by violence from jihadists, which the opposition accuses the ruling Ennahda party of having failed to subdue.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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Last Update: Friday, 25 October 2013 KSA 12:50 - GMT 09:50
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