Tunisia arrests 200 in Salafist crackdown: PM

AFP , Monday 20 May 2013

200 Salafists are arrested in Tunisia in the aftermath of heavy fighting between policemen and Ansar al-Sharia, a hardline Islamist group

Ansar al-Sharia
Supporters of Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia throw rocks at a riot police officer during clashes with riot police at Hai al Tadamon in Tunis (Photo: Reuters)

Tunisian police arrested some 200 members of the hardline Islamist Ansar al-Sharia in weekend clashes that erupted after a ban on their congress, Prime Minister Ali Larayedh said in remarks published on Monday.

"Those who have been arrested number 200," Larayedh said at the Doha Forum in the Gulf state of Qatar, quoted by the Arabic daily Al-Hayat.

The Tunisian leader warned of firm action against Ansar al- Sharia, an organisation that he said has links to and is involved in "terrorism".

"This group is engaged in violence, is opposed to the state and revolts" against the authorities, he said, according to Al-Hayat.

In response, "we will deal with extremism firmly, we will be rigid," said Larayedh, a former interior minister and member of the ruling moderate Islamist party Ennahda.

One protester was killed and 15 policemen wounded in the clashes that broke out in Tunis on Sunday after the authorities banned Ansar al-Sharia from staging their annual congress.

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