UPDATE: Armed Islamists on Tunis streets after clashes

AFP , Wednesday 31 Oct 2012

After deadly clashes the previous night resulting in the death of a Salafist militant, dozens of Islamists, some armed, flood the streets of the Tunisian capital where police presence is missing

Tunisian Protest
Tunisian protesters pull away barbed wire to let through the protesters on the other side (Photo: Reuters)

Dozens of Islamists, some of them armed, took to the streets of the Tunisian capital Wednesday after deadly clashes at night, but there was no sign of any additional security as stated by the authorities.

An AFP reporter said a crowd was gathered near the Ennour mosque in the Tunis suburb of Manouba, where the interior ministry said a radical Salafist militant was killed in Tuesday night's clashes.

The government said earlier that police and soldiers had deployed heavily and would use all means to quell any unrest following the clashes sparked by the arrest of a Salafist suspected of assaulting a security official.

But there were no such forces on the visible on the ground, and Islamist militants – some of them wielding knives – said they were ready for more confrontations.

"We will not let yesterday's murder pass without any reaction," said one of them.

Militants attacked two national guard posts in the Tunis suburb of Manouba late Tuesday after police arrested a Salafist suspected of assaulting the head of the area's public security brigade, the interior ministry said.

The attacks were carried out by "a large number of people with radical religious tendencies," ministry spokesman Khaled Tarrouche had said.

"The response by the security forces led to the death of an attacker who was hit by a bullet," he said, adding two security force members were also seriously injured.

Another young militant acknowledged on Wednesday that the violence had been sparked by the arrest of Salafis, but stressed that "this is not a reason to shoot a Tunisian in the head".

The security post at Khalid ibn Walid, where the Salfist was killed, was closed on Wednesday afternoon, although two police cars were parked there.

Since the Tunisian revolution in January last year that ousted former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, radical Islamists have carried out a number of attacks, including against security forces and on cultural events.

The opposition accuses the government, led by Islamist party Ennahda, of failing to rein in violence by Salafists, a hardline branch of Sunni Islam.

But the authorities have vowed to crack down on Islamist violence in the wake of a Salafist-led attack on the US embassy in September in which four assailants were killed.

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