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Tunisia: Suicide bombs near U.S. Embassy kill, injure police

UPDATED: Fri., March 6, 2020

Forensic officers work on a blast site near the US Embassy in Tunis, Friday, March 6, 2020. Tunisian media are reporting that two people on a motorcycle have set off a blast near the U.S. Embassy in the capital Tunis, the private Radio Mosaique said that five police officers were wounded and described it as a suicide attack. (Riadh Dridi / AP)
Forensic officers work on a blast site near the US Embassy in Tunis, Friday, March 6, 2020. Tunisian media are reporting that two people on a motorcycle have set off a blast near the U.S. Embassy in the capital Tunis, the private Radio Mosaique said that five police officers were wounded and described it as a suicide attack. (Riadh Dridi / AP)
By Mehdi El Arem and Bouazza Ben Bouazza Associated Press

TUNIS, Tunisia – Two suicide bombers blew themselves up near the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia, killing a police officer and wounding four others Friday, the North African nation’s Interior Ministry said.

Hundreds of police swarmed around the embassy on the outskirts of Tunis, the Tunisian capital, after the bombings. Sharpshooters could be seen on the roofs of nearby buildings and major streets were blocked.

An Interior Ministry spokesman insisted the dead attackers had targeted the officers on patrol and not the U.S. Embassy. An angry crowd stormed the building in 2012.

A flag inside the walled-off diplomatic mission fluttered above the attack site outside the embassy’s compound. Police taped off the area, which was littered with charred debris, as forensic teams sorted through remnants of the explosion.

The most seriously injured of the five police officers died during surgery Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Lahyouni said. A civilian also was slightly injured, the ministry said.

Lawmaker Yosri Dali, head of the armed forces and security commission, confirmed eyewitness reports that the bombers were on a motorcycle. Dali said in an interview with Radio Mosaique that they blew themselves up when a police patrol stopped them to ask where they were going.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Dozens of people have been killed in multiple attacks by Islamic extremists in Tunisia, notably in 2015 when the famed Bardo Museum outside the capital and a luxury beach hotel were attacked.

The U.S. Embassy, located in a residential area on the outskirts of Tunis, was attacked in 2012 along with a nearby American school by crowds of hundreds of people who were angered by an anti-Muslim film produced in the United States. Security forces killed four people during the attack in which the American flag was torn down and replaced with an Islamic flag,

Since the fall of Tunisia’s hard-line secular dictatorship in January 2011, Salafists have increasingly come into the open.

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