Suicide bombers kill policeman in attack near US embassy in Tunisia’s capital

Two motorcycle activists blew themselves up in front of the American embassy in TunisonFriday, killing a police officer and wounding several others during the most serious attack in the country for months.

The Tunisian interior ministry said the two activists were killed in the attack and five police officers were injured. The state news agency TAP subsequently reported the death of a police officer in the attack.

You could hear sirens on the big highway connecting the Berges du Lac, where the embassy is located, with the center of Tunis and its suburbs to the north. The US embassy in a tweet urged people to avoid the area.

FRANCE 24 correspondent Fadil Aliriza reported a strong security presence on the scene and what appeared to be body parts on the ground.

Islamist extremists have targeted Tunisia in recent years, killing dozens of people.

Last summer, the Islamic State group said it was the source of three militant explosions in the capital, including one near the French Embassy that killed a police officer and another that injured five people during security operation to arrest a suspect.

Tunisia’s critical tourism sector is very vulnerable to militant incidents and was devastated after two major attacks in 2015, which killed dozens of visitors to a seaside resort and a popular museum.

Diplomats who have worked with Tunisia on its security capacity say it has become more effective in preventing and responding to attacks by militants in recent years.

A “very powerful explosion”

Photographs of the explosion site posted on social media showed debris scattered around the area of ​​a security checkpoint that controls access to the embassy and damaged vehicles.

“We heard a very powerful explosion … we saw the remains of the terrorist lying on the ground after he went on a motorcycle to the police,” said shopkeeper Amira.

Diplomats who have worked with Tunisia on its security capacity say it has become more effective in preventing and responding to attacks by militants in recent years.

A group of al-Qaeda has taken refuge for years in the hilly and hilly terrain along a stretch of the border with Algeria and sometimes confronts the security forces there, but it is considered to be tightly confined.

Hundreds of Tunisians have also traveled to Iraq, Syria or Libya in recent years to join the Islamic State group, and in 2016 members of the group ransacked the border with Libya and fought the army in a border town, but have been pushed back.

“The attack indicates that the security challenge remains a major challenge in Tunisia,” said local security analyst Ali Zarmedini.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)