Terrorism comes to Tunisia
By Monia Ghanmi in Tunis for Magharebia – 31/07/2013
Tunisians fear an imminent terror attack, now that al-Qaeda-allied extremists have military gear in their possession.
On Tuesday (July 30th) morning, the defence ministry issued a statement warning of major terrorist operations involving the use of military uniforms and equipment stolen from the eight Tunisian soldiers murdered and mutilated in Jebel Chaambi.
"Based on initial examination, the soldiers were shot dead from close range, and all corpses show signs of bullets," Kasserine Hospital doctor Chedli Bilmaksoudi said.
It was too early to determine whether they were mutilated before or after being shot.
The Monday killing of Tunisian soldiers by militants on the Algerian border aggravated the political crisis brought on by the assassination of leftist opposition leader and Constituent Assembly member Mohamed Brahmi last week in Tunis.
"We've now entered a stage where there is terrorism in the country," President Moncef Marzouki said on Monday evening. "As you know, when terrorism is planted in a country, it is very difficult to eradicate it."
He noted that the terrorists were targeting Tunisians' way of life, the democratic transition and moderate Islam.
They are promoting strife, extremism and terrorism, he declared.
Marzouki urged all Tunisians to show solidarity and national unity to confront the criminals who posed a threat to Tunisia, and called for avoiding political tensions.
"We're about to offer sacrifices and victims," he added. "Therefore, we should deal with this threat through national unity, given that those [i.e. terrorists] are targeting all of us; not just the liberals, but also moderate Islamists."
This last terrorist attack took place amid political tensions and demands for the resignation of the Ennahda-led government for its failure to provide security and its leniency towards extremist groups.
"The current government must admit to its failure in confronting terrorism and dealing with violence," terrorism expert Alaya Alani said on television.
"The way the soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated shows that this terrorist group is linked to al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups, confirming that the goal of such operations is to disrupt society, the political process and security," he added.
Since last January, Tunisia's security forces have been conducting security operations in Jebel Chaambi in search of terrorists.
Back in December, then-interior minister Ali Layaredh noted that the Jebel Chaambi group, which called itself the Oqba Ibn Nafaa Brigade, was linked to al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM.)
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