Jendouba,Gafsa,Terrorism,Suspects,Arrest,Ben Guerdane,Douz,Kebili,Islamic State

Suspected Terror Cells Arrested in Jendouba, Gafsa

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Sixteen individuals were arrested on terrorism charges between Saturday night and Monday in the interior governorates of Jendouba and Gafsa.  In addition to ongoing security operations relating to the March 7, attack on and an investigation into the raising of an flag in the Governorate of Kebili over the weekend.

The arrests are part of an intelligence sweep in Tunisia's western regions, according to Defense Ministry spokesman Belhassen Oueslati. Nine individuals suspected of belonging to a terrorist cell were arrested between Saturday and Sunday in Boussalem (Governorate of Jendouba).  Computers and memory cards seized during the arrests were found to contain pledges of allegiance to the Islamic State and propaganda, according to a security source cited by TAP. In a separate announcement the announced seven individuals were arrested on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist cell in Gafsa. According to the Ministry's statement the seven are students at the University of Sciences in Gafsa and were reported by students and faculty after the seven attempted to recruit for the Islamic State from the university's student center. The statement from the Ministry did not include to date of the arrests in Gafsa. Over thirty arrests were also made in Douz (Governorate of Kebili) in an investigation which stemmed from the raising of an Islamic State flag over the community agricultural center in the town of Zaafrane over the weekend. 

Tensions remain extremely high in Tunisia since forty nine suspected terrorists were killed during an attack on the city of Ben Guerdane which began at dawn on Monday, March 7, when approximately fifty militants simultaneously attacked security installations and personnel in Ben Guerdane resulting in nearly sixty deaths, including thirteen security personnel and seven civilians.

 These arrests are not believed to be related to the attack on Ben Guerdane.  In addition to the forty nine suspected militants who were killed, a further ten individuals accused of participating in the attack have been arrested. Several other arrests have been made for individuals believed to have provided material support to the attackers of Ben Guerdane.