TU­NIS: Women demon­strate out­side the Tu­nisian par­lia­ment on Satur­day. —AP

Tu­nisia forces warn of re­turn­ing mil­i­tants

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

TU­NIS:

Tu­nisia’s se­cu­rity forces called on the govern­ment yes­ter­day to take “ex­cep­tional mea­sures” to com­bat the re­turn of ji­hadists fight­ing for ex­trem­ist groups abroad. Tu­nisia has seen a wave of ji­hadist at­tacks since its 2011 revolution, in­clud­ing on for­eign tourists, and the United Na­tions es­ti­mates that more than 5,000 Tu­nisians are fight­ing for ex­trem­ist out­fits, mainly in Iraq and Syria. “The re­turn of ter­ror­ists from hot­beds of un­rest in Tu­nisia is wor­ry­ing and could lead to the So­mali-isa­tion of the coun­try,” said a state­ment from the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity forces’ na­tional union, re­fer­ring to the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab group in So­ma­lia.

Bat­tle-hard­ened fight­ers “have re­ceived mil­i­tary train­ing and have learnt to use all sorts of so­phis­ti­cated weapons”, it added. The warning came a day af­ter the au­thor­i­ties said they had ar­rested three peo­ple in­clud­ing the nephew of Anis Amri, a Tu­nisian sus­pected of car­ry­ing out a deadly truck at­tack on a Ber­lin Christ­mas mar­ket this week. Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered out­side par­lia­ment in Tu­nis on Satur­day to protest against al­low­ing ji­hadists back into the coun­try.

The demon­stra­tors also chanted slo­gans hos­tile to Rached Ghan­nouchi, leader of the Is­lamist En­nahdha party, who had in the past backed the idea of “re­pen­tance” in ex­change for re­nun­ci­a­tion of vi­o­lence. Yes­ter­day, he said the coun­try should “as­sume its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties”. “This dis­ease has to be dealt with se­ri­ously,” Ghan­nouchi told a public meet­ing, say­ing his “treat­ment” was “jus­tice, po­lice, ed­u­ca­tion and ther­apy”.

On Fri­day, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Hedi Ma­j­doub told par­lia­ment 800 Tu­nisians who had fought for ex­trem­ist groups abroad had since re­turned home. Pres­i­dent Beji Caid Essebsi said ear­lier this month the au­thor­i­ties would refuse to par­don Tu­nisians who fight for mil­i­tant or­ga­ni­za­tions. “Many of them want to re­turn, and we can’t pre­vent a Tu­nisian from re­turn­ing to his coun­try,” he told AFP in Paris, “but we will be vig­i­lant.”

Fol­low­ing a storm of crit­i­cism in the press and on so­cial me­dia, on Dec 15 Essebsi told Tu­nisian tele­vi­sion that “we will not be in­dul­gent with the ter­ror­ists”. Yes­ter­day, the in­te­rior min­is­ter said five peo­ple had been ar­rested in Ari­ana, north of Tu­nis, sus­pected of “re­cruit­ing young peo­ple to send them to con­flict ar­eas”. — AFP

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