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Tunisian police chiefs sacked

March 23, 2015

Police chiefs in Tunis have been fired in the wake of last week's terrorist attack on tourists at Tunisia's national museum. This follows an admission by President Beji Caid Essebsi that there had been security failures.

Tunesien Tunis Premierminister Habib Essid Statement Terroranschlag
Image: Getty Images/AFP//F. Belaid

Tunisia's government said on Monday that at least five police commanders had been dismissed by Prime Minister Habib Essid, including those in charge of tourist security and an intelligence brigade.

The premier's communications director Mofdi Mssedi said Essid (pictured above) had on Sunday visited the national museum where 20 tourists were killed and identified "several deficiencies."

Two gunmen who rampaged for hours through the museum last Wednesday were eventually killed by security forces.

On Sunday, the news agency AFP said officials had admitted that guards tasked with protecting the museum and Tunisia's adjacent parliament complex were having coffee at the time of the assault.

Anti-terror legislation

On Sunday, Essebsi told French media that a third assailant was still "on the run" but vowed that he would be tracked down. He also vowed the "rapid" adoption of anti-terrorism legislation.

The government reactions followed the release on Saturday of grainy closed-circuit television footage showing two gunmen passing an unidentified male in a museum lobby.

Tunisia's secretary of state for security, Rafik Chelly, said the third person in the video was probably a motorcycle driver who had "brought the killers."

Chelly said that a total of 15 persons, including "drivers and other logistics people," alleged to have been involved in the attack had been detained.

Tunisia's French-language newspaper Le Quotidien on Sunday demanded more controls at mosques "under the influence of uncontrollable religious fanatics."

Wednesday's assault, which also resulted in the death of a policeman, was claimed by the "Islamic State," a movement which has gained notoriety in Syria and Iraq.

Tunisian authorities said they had no confirmation of such links, but they warned of the potential. As many as 3,000 Tunisians have joined jihadists in Iraq, Syria and Libya, raising fears of battle-hardened militants returning to Tunisia.

Soldier killed by landmine

In a parallel development, authorities announced Monday that one Tunisian soldier had been killed by a landmine in a central mountainous region bordering Algeria, where security forces had been fighting Islamist militants.

Two other soldiers were wounded by the blast, said a Tunisian defense ministry spokesman.

ipj/lw (AP, AFP, Reuters)