Tunisian police were exchanging gunfire Thursday with armed terrorists who had taken refuge in a town a few kilometers (miles) from the capital, the interior ministry said.
“Security forces have surrounded a house in Oued Ellil harboring terrorists and exchanges of gunfire are ongoing,” spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told local radio, after security was beefed up ahead of Tunisia’s parliamentary election on Sunday.
Some members of the security forces had been wounded in the gunfight, Aroui told AFP in a brief statement, refusing to provide further details.
Aroui told Mosaique FM radio that police had also clashed earlier Thursday with two terrorists in the city of Kebili about 500 kilometers (300 miles) South of Tunis.
The suspects were arrested after killing a private security guard in the gunfight, he said.
They had been “preparing operations in the area,” Aroui said, adding that two Kalashnikov assault rifles were seized.
Tunisia has increased security ahead of Sunday’s vote, seen as crucial to restoring stability in the North African nation, the cradle of the “Arab Spring” revolutionary movements.
Since the uprising that ousted former dictator President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, Tunisia has seen a proliferation of extremist militias, from which the majority stemmed from the war-thorn neighboring country Libya.
These groups have been blamed for a wave of attacks, including the assassination last year of two opposition lawmakers whose murders plunged the country into a protracted political crisis.