Suspected mastermind of June 27 Tunisia bombings dead

Authorities work at a scene after a man reported to be wearing an explosive belt died in the Mnihla area in Tunis, Tunisia, on July 2, 2019. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Updated 04 July 2019

Suspected mastermind of June 27 Tunisia bombings dead

  • Terror suspect Aymen Smiri was killed when his explosive belt detonated during a confrontation with police
  • The incident followed two nearly simultaneous attacks last Thursday, both claimed by Daesh militants

TUNIS: The suspected mastermind of last week’s twin suicide bombings in Tunis was killed in an overnight firefight with police outside the capital, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

A policeman was also killed in the exchange in the working class suburb of Intilaka, ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag told AFP.

“The terrorist Aymen Smiri was implicated in the twin suicide bombings on Thursday and investigations proved that he was the mastermind of the operation,” Zaag said, adding he was a “very active and very dangerous leader.”

The news broke late Wednesday afternoon after police revealed they had shot at a man wanted for terrorism during a confrontation late Tuesday in Tunisia’s capital and the suspect was killed when his explosive belt detonated, the Interior Ministry said.
Ministry spokesman Sofiène Zaâg told private Radio Mosaique that officers surrounded the man in the suburban Tunis neighborhood of Intilaki and opened fire.
He said the explosion of the belt killed the man, later identified as Smiri. Witnesses said the suspect was dressed in women’s clothes.
There were no other injuries or damage reported.
The incident followed two nearly simultaneous attacks last Thursday, including one in the center of Tunisia’s capital, that killed a police officer and injured eight. The Daesh extremist group claimed responsibility for those attacks.
Tunisia has been battling militant groups operating in remote areas near the border with Algeria since an uprising overthrew autocratic leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. High unemployment has also stoked unrest in recent years.
Last October, a woman blew herself up in the center of Tunis, wounding 15 people including 10 police officers in an explosion that broke a long period of calm after dozens had died in militant attacks in 2015.
Security has improved since authorities imposed a state of emergency in November 2015 after those attacks — one at a museum in Tunis and another on a beach in the Mediterranean seaside town of Sousse. A third attack targeted presidential guards in the capital.


Algerian court jails protesters over election

Updated 19 November 2019

Algerian court jails protesters over election

ALGIERS: An Algerian court has jailed four protesters for 18 months for disrupting a candidate’s campaign for the Dec. 12 presidential election which is opposed by a mass protest movement.
The court sentenced the four on Monday after protests on Sunday in the western city of Tlemcen, where one of the five candidates, Ali Benflis, was campaigning. No details were available on what their exact actions were.
Algeria’s authorities are trying to quell a protest movement that erupted in February to demand the departure of the country’s ruling hierarchy, an end to corruption and the army’s withdrawal from politics.
The army, which has emerged as the most powerful institution in the country, has pushed for next month’s election as a means to end the protests and restore normality. The former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, quit in April.
The judgment comes a week after a series of other prison sentences were handed down to protesters who had raised flags with Berber symbols during earlier demonstrations.
Several opposition leaders have also been held during the protests, and charged with contributing to damaging army morale.
However, the authorities have also detained numerous current and former senior officials on corruption charges, and have jailed some of them including the once untouchable former intelligence chief.
The protesters have rejected any presidential election carried out now, saying the continued presence of Bouteflika allies in the upper echelons of the government mean it cannot be free or fair.
Human Rights Watch said last week that the arrest of scores of protesters looked like “part of a pattern of trying to weaken opposition to Algeria’s interim rulers and their determination to hold presidential elections.”