Terrorist knife attack in Tunisia kills police officer
Attackers with knives killed a Tunisian National Guard officer and wounded another on Sunday in a terrorist attack, before three assailants were shot dead in a firefight, the military said.
The attack was in the tourist district of the coastal city of Sousse, the site of the worst of several extremist attacks in recent years when 38 people, most of them British, were killed in a 2015 beachside shooting rampage.
The attackers had first rammed the officers of the national gendarmerie with a vehicle, the Interior Ministry said.
After the knife attack, security forces pursued the assailants, who had taken the officers’ guns and vehicle, through the district of El Kantaoui, National Guard spokesman Houcem Jebabli said.
Mr Jebabli said that after the attackers were killed, troops recovered the car and two pistols the assailants stole.
The British ambassador to Tunisia, Louise de Sousa, tweeted she was appalled to hear of the attack in Sousse, 140 kilometres south of the capital Tunis.
“My sincere condolences to the family of the murdered officer and I wish a swift recovery to the injured,” Ms de Sousa wrote.
Since its 2011 popular revolution, Tunisia has been hit by a series of extremist attacks that have killed dozens of security staff, civilians and foreign tourists.
A suicide attack against security forces protecting the US embassy in Tunis killed a police officer and wounded several others in March.
The year 2015 was particularly bloody, with three major deadly attacks claimed by ISIS.
Attackers at the capital’s Bardo museum in March killed 21 foreign tourists and a security guard.
Only three months later, 38 tourists were killed in the shooting rampage in Sousse.
And that November, a bomb blast on a bus in central Tunis killed 12 presidential guards.
While the situation has improved significantly since then, Tunisia has maintained a state of emergency.
Assaults on security forces have persisted, mainly in remote areas along the border with Algeria.
Tunisia was praised as a rare success story among the 2011 popular uprisings that swept the region and brought down many autocrats, among them the country’s long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
But the small Mediterranean country of about 11 million people is mired in an economic crisis, with the official unemployment rate at 18 per cent, and is in need of assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
Last week Tunisia’s Parliament approved a new technocratic government led by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, which has the task of tackling deep social and economic woes.
Mr Mechichi, 46, pledged to revitalise the economy, including its crucial tourism sector that rebounded after the terrorist attacks but has been hit hard this year by the coronavirus pandemic.