x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Assassination plot in Tunis foiled

Third political killing averted with forces killing a 'terror' suspect in a dawn raid and arresting two men described as 'very dangerous terrorists'.

TUNIS // Tunisia said its forces killed a "terror" suspect in a dawn raid yesterday and separately foiled a political assassination that would have been similar to the one that has plunged the country into crisis.

The announcements came after protests for and against the Islamist-led coalition government, with the opposition demanding the cabinet resign and the National Constituent Assembly be disolved.

The calls have mounted since the murder nearly two weeks ago of the opposition MP, Mohamed Brahmi, the second anti-government politician gunned down in Tunis since Chokri Belaid in February.

Officials have said the same gun was used in both killings and pointed the blame at jihadists.

Yesterday, the prime minister, Ali Larayedh, announced the first arrest of a suspect in the Belaid case, without elaborating. He also called for jihadist militants hiding near the Algerian border to surrender.

"Hand over your arms, turn yourselves in to police, and then police and society will take that into account," he said.

The interior ministry, meanwhile, said the dawn raid targeted a house in the southern Tunis suburb of Ouardia where a group of "key terror" suspects was hiding.

"One of the members of the group was eliminated in an exchange of fire and four were arrested," the ministry said.

Overnight, the ministry said police had foiled a new bid to assassinate a political figure and that two "very dangerous terrorists" had been arrested and weapons seized.

It did not identify the target of the plot but said it had taken place in Sousse, south of Tunis, on Friday.

Police traded fire with gunmen after searching a house in the area, and a third suspect fled, it said.

The security force operations came as Tunisia's moderate Islamist Ennahda party was battling to defend its position as the head of a governing coalition after winning an October 2011 election.