Tunisian forces have dismantled two extremist cells linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) active in various parts of the country. At least one of them was plotting terrorist attacks, according to the Interior Ministry.
One cell was uncovered by the Tunisian authorities in the southern city of Tataouine, the ministry said on Friday, adding that the extremists sought to attack the military and security forces.
“They planned to carry out terrorist attacks targeting the security and military units in the region (Tataouine), using explosive devices,” the ministry said in a statement.
The authorities did not provide any details about the number of cell members involved, or the measures taken against them. The ministry also did not reveal how security forces detected the extremists.
Earlier, the spokesman of the Tunisian National Guard, Hossam Eddine Al-Jabali, said in a Facebook post that the authorities had arrested members of a “female cell” active in Tunisia’s western regions, between the provinces of Kef and Tozeur.
Its mission was reportedly to attract other women online and make them join Islamic State. The group was “linked to terrorists affiliated with the so-called Caliphate Soldiers Organization settled in the Tunisian mountains,” Al-Jabali said. The Caliphate Soldiers Organization is itself an IS affiliate, he added.
All members of the female cell were arrested and put into custody, the national guard spokesman said.
Tunisia has seen several terrorist attacks since 2011. The number of incidents has risen since 2013, with dozens of security and military personnel, as well as tourists, killed in such attacks. Six years ago, an IS extremist killed 39 foreign tourists on a beach in the once-popular vacation hotspot of Sousse, triggering a visitor exodus that impacted the nation’s economy.