The nephew of the Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri and two other suspects have been arrested in Tunisia, officials say.
The three, aged between 18 and 27, were members of a “terrorist cell”, and they were detained overnight, the Tunisian interior ministry said.
Tunisian-born Anis Amri, 24, was shot dead by police near the Italian city of Milan on December 23.
This week’s truck attack at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market left 12 people dead and 49 injured.
The interior ministry statement said Anis Amri’s nephew – the son of his sister – had confessed that he had communicated with his uncle via the encrypted chat application Telegram to evade security surveillance.
It said the three-member cell had been active in the towns of Fouchana, outside Tunis, and Oueslatia near Anis Amri’s hometown of Kairouan, about 95 miles south of the capital.
The statement added that Anis Amri had sent money to his nephew to travel to Germany and join a jihadist group, and encouraged him to pledge allegiance to ISIS.
Meanwhile, intelligence services in Spain are investigating a possible internet communication between Amri and a Spanish resident on 19 December, Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido told radio station COPE.
On December 23, ISIS released a video showing Anis Amri pledging allegiance to its leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Anis Amri was shot dead after opening fire on police officers during a routine police check in the Milan suburb of Sesto San Giovanni, after a three-day Europe-wide manhunt.
According to a United Nations report, an estimated 5,500 Tunisians – mostly young people between the ages of 18 and 35 – were fighting in the ranks of terrorist organizations in Libya, Iraq, Syria and, to a lesser extent, Mali.
In November 2016, the ministry of the interior in Tunis said about 800 fighters had returned to the country.
Six Tunisian police chiefs have been fired following last week’s attack on the famous Bardo Museum, PM Habib Essid has announced.
PM Habib Essid had noted several security deficiencies during a visit to the museum, his office said.
The Islamic State (ISIS) said it carried out the attack on Bardo museum in the capital, Tunis, killing 23 people, mostly European tourists.
Two of the gunmen were killed by the security forces, while a third was on the run, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said.
“There were certainly three attackers… there is one who is on the run, he won’t get far,” President Beji Caid Essebsi said on March 22.
The attack was the deadliest in Tunisia since the uprising which led to the overthrow of long-serving ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
Photo AFP/Getty Images
The police chiefs of Tunis and the museum were among those dismissed, Habib Essid’s spokesman Mofdi Mssedi told AFP news agency.
Habib Essebsi said in an interview with French media that a monument would be erected in memory of the victims.
The gunmen are said to have been trained in Libya in an area controlled by ISIS militants.
The two gunmen seen in the video were named as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui. They were both killed in a gunfight with security forces inside the building.
In an earlier interview with Paris Match, Habib Essebsi said that “shortcomings” in Tunisia’s security system meant “the police and intelligence services had not been through enough in protecting the museum”.
However, Habib Essebsi added that the security services “reacted very efficiently” to the attack and had helped save dozens of lives.
Twenty foreigners were among those killed in the attack, including British, Japanese, French, Italian and Colombian tourists.
Following the attack, large numbers of Tunisians gathered outside the museum to protest against terrorism.
Tunisia has seen an upsurge in Islamist extremism since the 2011 revolution – the event that sparked the Arab Spring.
Tunisia has been suspended from the Davis Cup after tennis player Malek Jaziri was ordered not to compete against an Israeli opponent last month.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said there was no room for prejudice in sport and the one-year ban was a “fitting penalty”.
Malek Jaziri withdrew from the Tashkent Challenger last month ahead of a match against Amir Weintraub.
Malek Jaziri withdrew from the Tashkent Challenger last month ahead of a match against Amir Weintraub
He was cleared of wrongdoing.
Officials found Malek Jaziri – who had claimed to be suffering from a knee injury – had been ordered to pull out of the match.
The ITF board voted unanimously to suspend the Tunisian Tennis Federation for one year from the Davis Cup, one of the most important tournaments in men’s tennis.
“There is no room for prejudice of any kind in sport or in society. The ITF Board decided to send a strong message to the Tunisian Tennis Federation that this kind of action will not be tolerated by any of our members,” said ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti.
Tunisian opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi has been assassinated outside his home in Tunis, officials say.
Mohamed Brahmi, 58, led the nationalist Movement of the People party.
It is the second time an opposition party leader has been killed this year.
In February, prominent secular politician Chokri Belaid was also shot outside his house in Tunis. His murder sparked protests and forced PM Hamadi Jebali to resign.
An uprising in Tunisia in late 2010 kick-started a series of revolutions that spread through the Middle East and became known as the Arab Spring.
Gunmen on a motorbike shot Mohamed Brahmi in his car in front of his wife and daughter on Thursday morning, Movement of the People party officials said.
Local media said the assailants fired 11 bullets at the politician. It is not known yet who was behind the attack.
Mohamed Brahmi’s wife, Mbarka, said a “criminal gang has killed the free voice of Brahmi”.
Mbarka Brahmi and her daughter Belkis were joined by angry Tunisians outside the hospital in Ariana where the politician died.
Mohamed Brahmi has been assassinated outside his home in Tunis
Large crowds also gathered outside the Ministry of Interior in Tunis in protest at the killing.
There are also reports of demonstrators converging in the city of Sidi Bouzid, Mohamed Brahmi’s hometown and the birthplace of the Arab Spring.
“People have blocked roads and set tyres alight,” a local resident told the Reuters news agency.
The governing Islamist Ennahda party expressed “sadness and shock” at the assassination, which it described as a “cowardly and despicable crime”.
The killing came as Tunisia celebrated the 56th anniversary of becoming a republic after gaining independence from France.
French President Francois Hollande condemned Mohamed Brahmi’s murder and called on Tunisians to unite behind the democratic transition.
Mohamed Brahmi founded the Movement of the People party after the 2011 revolution.
He was also a member of the National Constituent Assembly, which is drafting a new constitution.
The assembly announced Friday would be a day of mourning.
Mohamed Brahmi was not as big a political figure as Chokri Belaid, but he too was a leftist critical of Ennahda.
Ennahda came to power following the overthrow of long-term ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.
The party has faced growing popular unrest over a faltering economy and a rising extremist Islamist movement.
After Chokri Belaid’s assassination in February, many Tunisians accused Ennahda of not doing enough to stamp out a rise in Islamist violence, with some critics saying the party was actively fomenting it, correspondents say.
Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has resigned after failing to reach agreement on forming a new government.
Hamadi Jebali had been trying to form a new coalition in response to the political crisis sparked by the killing of opposition leader Chokri Belaid.
He had said he would quit if his Islamist Ennahda party did not back his plan for a cabinet of technocrats.
Chokri Belaid’s assassination on 6 February provoked mass protests and resignations from Tunisia’s coalition government.
“I vowed that if my initiative did not succeed, I would resign and I have done so,” Hamadi Jebali told a news conference after meeting President Moncef Marzouki.
Describing his step as “a big disappointment”, he said he was standing down to “fulfill a promise made to the people.”
“Our people are disillusioned by the political class. We must restore confidence,” he stressed.
And he added: “The failure of my initiative does not mean the failure of Tunisia or the failure of the revolution,” in a reference to the popular unrest two years ago that ousted autocratic leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has resigned after failing to reach agreement on forming a new government
Hamadi Jebali’s resignation comes despite comments by Ennahda’s leader Rached Ghannouchi on Monday that all parties involved in the coalition building talks had wanted the prime minister to remain in office.
Opposition supporters have blamed Ennahda for Mr Belaid’s assassination – an accusation the party denies.
Chokri Belaid’s killing was the first political assassination in Tunisia since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.
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