Tunis – Three Tunisian policemen and a suspected jihadist were killed in clashes Monday in the centre of the country, the interior ministry said, blaming an al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group for the violence.
“The national guard attempted to ambush at dawn two terrorists on a motocycle in Sidi Ali Ben Aoun after obtaining information that [they] were about to launch an operation,” ministry spokesperson Mohamed Ali Aroui told AFP.
He said two officers were killed in the ensuing shoot-out, and that the militants fled before killing a third policeman who had been going to work.
They were pursued by an elite unit of the national guard, Aroui said.
“One of the terrorists was exterminated, the second was wounded and arrested. He is in a serious condition,” he added.
Twelve people were wounded, including three members of the security forces, a soldier and eight bystanders, an official at the nearby Sidi Bouzid hospital told AFP.
One civilian was in a critical condition, the official added.
The interior ministry blamed the violence on Tunisia’s main jihadist group, the al-Qaeda-linked Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigades which it has accused of being behind several recent attacks.
“The two terrorists… belong to Okba Ibn Nafaa,” Aroui said, although he did not identify them.
Authorities have blamed the group for a series of attacks, including the March massacre at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis that killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman.
Tunisia has seen a surge in radical Islam since veteran president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in the 2011 revolution.
Dozens of members of the security forces have been killed since then in jihadist attacks.
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