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Tunisia busts cell planning attacks on security forces

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By Reuters

TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisian authorities on Wednesday dismantled a cell planning attacks on security forces and seized material for making explosives, the Interior Ministry said.

Most of the members of the cell, dubbed the Brigade of Jihad and Unity, were arrested and were being held in prison, the ministry said in a statement.

It had pledged allegiance to an unidentified militant group abroad and planned attacks targeting security posts and patrols in the central province of Sidi Bouzid, it said.

An explosive belt, grenades and bomb-making material were seized during the operation, it added.

Tunisia has been on high security alert since 2015 when Islamic State gunmen killed 38 tourists in a museum in the capital and on a beach in the resort city of Sousse.

Since then security has improved with only sporadic smaller attacks, allowing the vital tourism industry to recover as foreigners have returned to Tunisia’s Mediterranean beaches.

Authorities say more than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight for jihadist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Many of them have been killed in battle while others have been jailed or put under house arrest after returning to Tunisia.

(Reporting by Mohamed Argoubi; Writing by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)