Gunmen in Tunisia attempt to kill politician

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Associated Press

Posted on September 2, 2014 at 3:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 2 at 8:02 AM

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A secular Tunisian parliamentarian narrowly escaped assassination by six masked gunmen who surrounded his home late at night in a city near the Algerian border, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

The attack came less than two months before fiercely competitive parliamentary elections on Oct. 26 that will mark the end of the democratic transition started when people overthrew Tunisia's dictator in 2011.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said the attackers came down to the city of Kasserine from Mount Salloum, part of a chain of mountains along the Algerian border where al-Qaida linked militants have hideouts. No arrests were reported, and it was unclear how authorities could identify where the attackers were based.

The parliament member, Mohammed Ali Nasri of the Nida Tounes party, told local radio that he saw three masked, armed men pounding violently at his door late Monday night while three others stood guard in the street.

He said he fled to the second floor of his house and then leaped into a neighbor's courtyard, breaking his leg in the fall. He said he heard shots before neighbors took him to the hospital.

In May, gunmen attacked the home of the interior minister in the same city, killing four policemen. The minister was not there, but his family was.

In 2013, two politicians of the left-wing Popular Front coalition were gunned down by assailants linked to al-Qaida, plunging the country into a political crisis that ultimately led to the resignation of the Islamist-led government in favor of a caretaker administration.

Over the weekend, Interior Ministry Lotfi Ben Jeddou warned that there were serious terrorist attacks planned in Tunisia for September in an attempt to torpedo the elections.

The ministry has also confirmed that two other prominent politicians from the anti-Islamist camp have received death threats and had their security boosted.

Hamma Hammami, the head of the Popular Front coalition, was advised not to attend a scheduled rally because of threats.

Beji Caid Essebsi, the head of Nida Tounes and a front-runner in the upcoming election, was also threatened and has been given the use of an armored car, the ministry said.

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