World News

Tunisia stops militant cell plotting attacks in Sousse: interior ministry

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian authorities dismantled a cell linked to the Islamic State militant group that was planning attacks against sites in the coastal town of Sousse, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.

Tunisian security forces are on high alert after attacks in Tunis and Sousse last year, and an attempt by militants to take control of a town near the Libyan border in March.

On Tuesday the government extended a nationwide state of emergency that gives authorities additional powers for two more months.

The interior ministry statement said the cell had been dismantled on Tuesday in the Kalaa Kbira area, and that it “planned to carry out terrorist acts in Sousse against key sites in the city”.

It said a number of the cell’s members had received combat training and watched videos on how to make explosives. It did not say how many people had been arrested or give further details.

Tunisia has faced a growing challenge from Islamist militants since its 2011 revolution and transition to democracy. Officials estimate that several thousand Tunisians left to fight with Islamic State and other groups in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

In the attack in Sousse last June, a gunman trained in Libya killed 38 foreigners, mostly Britons, at a beach hotel.

Reporting by Tarek Amara, Editing by Aidan Lewis and Angus MacSwan