Tunisia militant shootouts kill two people

Tunisia is set to hold parliamentary elections on Sunday to complete its democratic transition

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Three days before a national election in Tunisia, police clashed with suspected militants in two areas of the country on Thursday and at least two people were killed.

In Oued Ellil, a suburb of Tunis, the capital, security forces surrounded a home of suspected militants after a shootout there killed one police officer and wounded another.

Negotiations were underway aimed at releasing women and children in the house who apparently are family members of the gunmen inside, said Interior Minister spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui.

He said the gunmen's goal was to disturb Sunday's election.

Witnesses at the scene said gas and electricity to the surrounded home have been cut.

Early Thursday morning, police arrested two men armed with assault rifles in the southern of Kebili in a clash that left a bystander dead, officials said. Without providing details, Aroui said the men were planning a terrorist attack.

On Sunday, Tunisia is set to complete its democratic transition after overthrowing its dictator in 2011 with parliamentary elections, and authorities have warned that Islamist extremists would seek to disrupt the contests.

In the weeks prior to the elections, security forces have conducted a string of operations aimed at dismantling extremist cells.

"Our forces are mobilized and ready to protect the electoral process so that no one can disrupt it," said Aroui.

The Ministry of Defense also said that a bomb went off near a military patrol in the mountainous Kef region near the Algerian border on Thursday, but no one was wounded.

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