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Archive for Tunisia

Newsline: Blast near U.S. Embassy in Tunisia kills policeman

Two militants on a motorbike blew themselves up outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia on Friday, killing a policeman and injuring several others in the country’s most serious attack in months. The explosion took place near the embassy’s main gate, where a Reuters journalist saw a scorched, damaged motorbike and a damaged police vehicle lying amid debris as police gathered around and a helicopter whirled overhead. The Interior Ministry said two militants were killed carrying out the attack and five police officers were injured, while a civilian suffered minor injuries. State news agency TAP reported that one policeman was killed. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tunisia-security-blast/blast-near-u-s-embassy-in-tunisia-kills-policeman-idUSKBN20T1BJ) Sirens could be heard on the major highway linking the Lac district, where the embassy is located, with Tunis and suburbs in the north. The U.S. Embassy in a tweet urged people to avoid the area. Roads around security installations were closed in some parts of the capital and some international institutions were put on lockdown or evacuated.

Newsline: Tunisia expels its ambassador to UN

Tunisia expelled its own ambassador at the United Nations, faulting him for not doing adequate consultation on a Security Council resolution he helped draft responding to the U.S. Middle East peace initiative. The official TAP news agency quoted the Tunisian president’s office as saying Moncef Baati was accused of “absence of coordination and consultation” with the foreign ministry and with representatives of Arab and Islamic countries at the United Nations. (https://www.africanews.com/2020/02/10/in-the-name-of-sovereignty-africa-expels-rogue-diplomats-from-western-powers/) Baati is a career diplomat who came out of retirement to take the U.N. post in September. The U.S. plan would allow Israel to annex all its settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley. The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war. Baati’s dismissal raised questions as to whether the draft resolution had gone too far in countering the U.S., a long-time ally of Tunisia, even though the Tunisian president lambasted the peace plan just a week ago as “the injustice of the century.”

Newsline: The US Embassy in Tunisia closed its doors to the public due to security reasons

“Due to security concerns, the US Embassy will be closed to the public on July 1st except for emergency services,” the embassy said in a statement. (https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190701-us-closes-embassy-in-tunisia-due-to-security-concerns/) The move came after two suicide bombings took place in the Tunisian capital on June 27, killing one policeman and injuring eight people. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks. The first explosion took place near a police patrol on the central Charles de Gaulle Street, not far from the French Embassy.

Newsline: Tunisia reopens consulate in Libyan capital Tripoli

Tunisia has reopened its consulate in the Libyan capital, the Libya foreign ministry said, the latest mission to return to Tripoli. Most embassies left Tripoli in 2014 when heavy fighting broke out between rival factions and few came back when a U.N.-backed administration took office in 2016. The Tunisian consulate resumed work after talks between the two countries, the Libyan foreign ministry said. The Tunisian foreign ministry declined to comment, but a diplomatic source confirmed the move. Tunisia closed its mission after ten staffers were kidnapped in 2015.


Newsline: Police suspect arson after fire at Stockholm embassy building injures 14

Police in Stockholm have arrested a man on suspicion of arson after a fire at an embassy building injured 14 people. The alarm was raised about the fire at the Narvavägen building housing the embassies of Portugal, Tunisia, Argentina and Belgium as well as apartments and a restaurant at around lunchtime on Wednesday afternoon. “The operation is still ongoing. Around 14 people have been affected by the fire, with no serious injuries but smoke and minor injuries,” Stockholm police press spokesperson Kjell Lindgren told The Local. “The latest information from the fire fighters is that there’s no one left in the building, but they’re still working to extinguish the fire in the apartment section.” Lindgren said police were looking to speak to a person who they “think could have something to do with” the incident, with a description released to the public in an effort to locate him. Asked if it’s thought the fire was started deliberately, Lindgren affirmed “we think it was lit by someone, which is why we’ve started an investigation into arson”. An arrest was made in central Stockholm just after 2pm on Wednesday, with a man arrested suspected of arson on reasonable grounds (the lower degree of suspicion according to Swedish law).


Newsline: Tunisia summons British ambassador over airline electronics rules

Tunisia’s government has summoned the British ambassador to protest against a decision to restrict carry-on electronic goods on flights from Tunisia, the Foreign Ministry said. Britain announced that from Saturday it would ban passengers from carrying some phones, laptops and tablets on flights from six countries in the Middle East including Tunisia. Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the British decision was “unjustified” and did not reflect an improved security situation in Tunisia. “Tunisia is surprised by this decision, which was taken without consultation with the Tunisian authorities or informing them in advance,” the statement said. Tunisia has been working to contain a threat from Islamist militants after three major attacks claimed by Islamic State in 2015, including two targeting foreign tourists. The United States imposed similar restrictions on planes coming from 10 airports in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats. The U.S. restrictions did not include Tunisia.


Newsline: Kidnapped Tunisian embassy workers freed in Libya

A Tunisian diplomat and a fellow embassy staffer abducted in Libya earlier this year were freed by their abductors after months in captivity, an embassy source said. “They have been freed and should be returning to Tunisia soon,” the source, who declined to be identified, told AFP, adding that the pair were in good health. Diplomats in Tripoli say militias which fought to topple the Moamer Kadhafi regime in the 2011 uprising often carry out kidnappings to blackmail other countries into releasing Libyans they hold. Embassy employee Mohamed ben Sheikh was kidnapped in Tripoli on March 21 while diplomat Al-Aroussi Kontassi was seized April 17. At the time Tunis said a jihadist group was behind the abductions and was demanding the release of Libyans jailed in Tunisia for their role in a deadly “terrorist operation” that took place three years ago. The Tunisian embassy source said the pair were freed “thanks to negotiations” but that his government did give in to the demands of the kidnappers. Their abductions come during a string of attacks targeting diplomats in the Libyan capital. Jordan’s ambassador to Libya has also been kidnapped and Portugal’s embassy was attacked by gunmen


Newsline: Website of Indian Embassy in Tunisia hacked

After two attacks in Pakistan within 36 hours, the website of Indian Embassy in Tunisia was hacked, according to a report on the News Minute. According to the report, the hackers posted that there would be a similar attack carried out in Mumbai airport. It repeated the allegation of India’s involvement in supporting Pakistan. Pakistan witnessed one of the most audacious terror attack in its history when Threek-E-Taliban Pakistan launched a twin assault on Karachi airport. Just a day later after the siege ended the website of the Indian embassy in Tunisia has been hacked. The News Minute reports, hackers posted a message that vengeance would be taken for the Karachi airport attack. It repeats the unsubstantiated allegation of Indian involvement in Karachi attack and says similar attack would be carried out in Mumbai airport.


Newsline: Tunisia slashes Tripoli embassy staff

The Tunisian embassy in Tripoli has halved its staff since the abduction of embassy advisor Aroussi Gontassi on Thursday. Confirming the move, the ambassador, Ridha Boukadi, told the Libya Herald that there was as yet no news of Gontassi or of his whereabouts. As regards the kidnapping of two Tunisian engineers working for a Tunisian engineering company on Tuesday, he said they have been freed by “criminal gangs” after a ransom was paid. With regard to Mohamed Cheikh Rouhou, his secretary who was abducted a month ago, the ambassador indicated that there were contacts with those holding him. Although not free, the ambassador said that he was “fine”.


Newsline: Tunisian diplomat kidnapped in Libya

A Tunisian diplomat was kidnapped Thursday in Tripoli in unknown circumstances, a Libyan security source told AFP, just two days after armed men seized Jordan’s ambassador. A Tunisian source confirmed the abduction and identified the diplomat as Al-Aroussi Kontassi, without giving further details. Tunis’s ambassador to Libya, Ridha Boukadi, refused to comment, but the Tunisian foreign ministry voiced concern over the “disappearance in obscure circumstances” of the diplomat. Libyan foreign ministry spokesman Said Lessoued said he could not confirm or deny the reported abduction, the latest in a string of incidents targeting foreign diplomats and Libyan politicians. A Tripoli police official, quoted by Al-Wassat news website, said the diplomat was seized by unknown assailants near the central Al-Kadissiya square not far from the Tunisian embassy. If confirmed, the diplomat would be the second staffer from the Tunisian embassy abducted in the Libyan capital since March 21 when a man employed by the mission was seized. His fate is still unknown. Diplomats in Tripoli say militias that fought to topple the Moamer Kadhafi regime in the 2011 uprising often carry out kidnappings in order to blackmail other countries into releasing Libyans held abroad. On Tuesday, masked gunmen kidnapped Jordan’s ambassador, Fawaz Aitan, as he was going to work in Tripoli, shooting at his car and wounding his driver. In January, gunmen seized five Egyptian diplomats and held them for two days before releasing them. The abductors had demanded in return the release of a Libyan militia chief held in Egypt. Two assailants were killed in October when protesters attacked Russia’s embassy in Tripoli, and a car bomb attack on the French embassy wounded two guards a year ago. On September 11, 2012, an attack by militants on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of the 2011 revolt, killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.