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Terrorism 2013-11-13

Tunisia hunts down terrorists

By Monia Ghanmi in Tunis for Magharebia – 13/11/2013

Tunisia on Tuesday (November 12th) arrested Ansar al-Sharia deputy leader Wael Amami and group spokesman Seifeddine Rais.

Rais was apprehended at his home in Kairouan, Tunisie Numerique reported. Amami was arrested in Sidi Bouzid on charges of killing seven policemen in the Sidi Ali Ben Aoun violence.

Also on Tuesday, Tunisian security forces killed one gunman and arrested several others in Kebili. Two National Guardsmen were injured in the operation.

The incidents were just the latest in a series of confrontations between terrorist groups and the authorities that continue to hunt them down.

The most recent gunfight took place in Nagga, in the southern desert governorate of Kebili. According to Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui, the clashes resulted in the killing of a terrorist, while two officers of the National Guard were wounded.

He pointed out that all other members of the terrorist group were captured, including a dangerous element.

A day earlier, Tunisian security services seized five cars and a van intended to be used as a vehicle bomb by a jihadist cell in Kebili. Large amounts of money, computers, mobile phones and a grenade were also recovered, according to a defence ministry statement.

Seventeen people were arrested as part of the investigation, the statement added.

While the army and police continue sweeps and raids, the government is trying to confront terrorism with new strategies.

"Addressing the phenomena of extremism and terrorism requires an approach, deep, multi-faceted, and comprehensive that includes many aspects; intellectual, educational, social, economic and religious," President Moncef Marzouki said Tuesday during his supervision of a training course at the National Institute for Defence.

However, residents of the southern regions of the country said that the fight against terrorism required addressing the social problems of these areas, particularly for young people.

Journalist Faiçel Aouini said, "I have already visited the locality of Nagga. It is few kilometres away from the town of Kebili. It is a harsh place; there is barely any life in it. It is an environment that fuels terrorism."

"Our town is deprived of the most basic services and necessities," said Taher Khnissi, a 38-year-old Kebili resident. "It lacks cultural and recreational facilities in addition to the absence of new projects."

"This situation is being exploited by Islamist militants to attract disadvantaged groups and recruit them as members," Knissi added.

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