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Tunisia dismantles terrorist cell

Tunisian security forces [file photo]
Tunisian security forces [file photo]

Tunisian security forces have dismantled a 13-member “terrorist cell” that was recruiting young people to militant groups, authorities confirmed yesterday.

The suspects, who ranged between 22 and 43, were arrested on Tuesday in Hergla, near Sousse, according to the interior ministry.

Secret meetings were held in a mosque with the members who admitted to recruiting and sending 12 youths to fight with militant groups abroad including the Al-Qaeda affiliated Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion.

The arrests are the seventh in less than a week with authorities arresting more than 70 people in a widening crackdown on militants since last month.

Efforts to crackdown on extremists come as a Tunisian, Anis Amri, was the main suspect in last month’s attack on a Berlin Christmas market in which 12 people were killed.

Daesh later claimed responsibility for the attack and Amri was shot dead by police in Italy four days later.

Tunisia has been battling a militant movement since the 2011 uprising toppled President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali. Dozens of soldiers and police officers have been killed over the year including 59 foreign tourists.

Around 3,000 have left Tunisia to fight in militant groups in neighbouring Libya, Syria and Iraq, according to officials whereas the United Nations have accounted for 5,000 fighters.

Last week, Tunisia’s government stated it is monitoring 800 militants who had returned from foreign battlefields with concern growing of the threat the returning militants pose. The national union for security forces last month urged the government to take “exceptional measures” against them.

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