Tunisia: Police arrest Islamist suspects

The arrest took place at dawn in the town of Kef. Hours later, clashes erupted

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Tunisian police arrested on Saturday ten suspected members of the banned Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia in the northeast of the country. The arrests led to clashes with their supporters, the Interior Ministry said.

The arrests took place at dawn in the town of Kef. Hours later, clashes erupted when supporters of the suspects hurled stones at a police station and set tires ablaze in the area, Agence France-Presse reported.

Police retaliated by firing tear gas to disperse the assailants, the ministry said without giving any casualty details, according to AFP.

Ansar al-Sharia is Tunisia’s main Salafist movement which the authorities have designated a “terrorist organization” with ties to al-Qaeda.

Since the ouster of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali following the 2011 uprising, Tunisia has been rocked by violence blamed on radical Islamist groups who had been suppressed under the former dictator.

Islamists have been blamed for the assassinations of two opposition MPs which plunged the country into a protracted political crisis.

The opposition blames the government for failing to rein in the Jihadists and has demanded the resignation of the cabinet which is headed by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda.

Ansar al-Sharia is led by Abu Iyadh, a former al-Qaeda fighter who operated in Afghanistan.

The group is accused of orchestrating a deadly attack on the U.S. embassy in Tunis in September 2012, but it has repeatedly denied its involvement in that or other attacks.

Around 30 soldiers and policemen have been killed in clashes with Jihadists this year, mostly in the Chaambi mountain region along the Algerian border where security forces have been tracking Qaeda-linked militants.

(With AFP)

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