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Tunisians protest against returning jihadists

10 January 2017, 10:08

Tunis - At least 1 000 people protested in central Tunis on Sunday against allowing Tunisians who had fought with jihadists abroad back into the country.

At least 3 000 Tunisians have joined the ranks of jihadist groups fighting in neighbouring Libya, as well as in Syria and Iraq, according to officials.

The United Nations puts the figure at 5 000.

With the Islamic State group losing its main Libyan stronghold of Sirte and the jihadists under pressure in Syria and Iraq, concern has been growing in Tunisia that many will return to the country.

Protesters at Sunday's rally - many wrapped in Tunisians flags - shouted "No to returning terrorists!" and "All Tunisians against terrorism!"

"Tunisians need to be reassured by a real political will that makes it clear these criminals won't be allowed to return," said one of the protesters, 33-year-old civil servant Shahnez Mili.

Tunisian authorities have arrested several dozen alleged jihadists in a growing crackdown on extremists in recent weeks.

Authorities stepped up their efforts after Tunisian Anis Amri was identified as the primary suspect in last month's attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people.

Amri was shot dead by police in the Italian city of Milan four days after the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State group.

Since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been battling a jihadist movement that has killed dozens of soldiers and police officers as well as civilians including 59 foreign tourists.

- AFP

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