Shortly after Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou warned that terrorists aimed to disrupt the upcoming parliamentary elections, a politician escaped assassination.
On Monday (September 2nd), six terrorists attacked MP Mohamed Ali Nasri of Nidaa Tounes, Ennahda’s primary political rival. The home of the MP is located near Jebel Saloum in Hay Ezzouhour, Kasserine.
The area was one of the likely targets of terror attacks noted by Ben Jeddou last Saturday in El Aouina.
Security forces for months have been battling Islamist extremists entrenched in the country’s western mountains on the border with Algeria. One of these groups on Sunday shot at a security patrol in Kasserine.
According to the interior minister, Tunisian cities were relatively safe from the terrorist threat, thanks to the vigilance of security units.
For his part, Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa urged Tunisians “to take part in the election regardless of the circumstances”.
“We know that the situation is tough,” Jomaa continued. “There may be doubts about the feasibility of taking part in election and a feeling that the election won’t solve all the problems. However, we have to continue to build the Tunisian democratic model.”
Tunisians are awaiting legislative elections on October 26th, followed by presidential elections on November 23rd.
As preventive measures before the election, the Jomaa government recently started implementing a new strategy aimed at uprooting terrorism. The plan involves tracking the militants in their entrenched areas, retaking control of the mosques that were under the command of salafists the closure of a number of Islamic associations funding terrorism, along with controlling terrorists on the internet and blocking militant websites.
Tunisian authorities on August 28th said that more than 1,700 terrorist elements were arrested during the first seven months of this year.
Tunisians’ fears have mounted in the run up to the vote.
“There is no doubt that the election period will be critical due to its conjunction with clashes and armed conflicts taking place in Libya,” commented Abderrahim Mraihi, a 41-year-old civil servant. “Hence security preparations must be at the highest level and vigilance is required from all Tunisians.”
In his turn, Mourad Sayeb, 44, said: “I’m surprised with the security forces’ failure to arrest the terrorists who attacked the MP, especially as it was not the first time that Hay Ezzouhour, Kasserine, has witnessed such terrorist attacks. The most famous incident was the attack on Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou. For these reasons, that area must witness huge efforts to combat terrorism.”
“I think that the terrorists want to ruin our happiness with election, and therefore, we have to participate en masse in spite of everything to end this transition,” 23-year-old Malek El Jabri told Magharebia.