Six Tunisia police chiefs dismissed over museum attack

Police commanders in charge of tourist security and intelligence brigade sacked by prime minister over “deficiencies”.

Bardo museum tunisia
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has claimed responsibility for the attack [AFP]

Tunisia’s prime minister has dismissed six police commanders, including those in charge of tourist security and an intelligence brigade.

Monday’s decision by Habib Essid follows the March 18 attack on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, which killed 21 people, 20 of whom were foreign tourists.

Mofdi Mssedi, the prime minister’s office spokesman, said the six also included an intelligence brigade chief, the Tunis district police chief, the traffic police commander, a Bardo Museum security chief and a commander for the capital’s Sidi Bachir district.

“Prime Minister Habib Essid visited the Bardo Museum yesterday [Sunday] and took note of several security failures there,” Mssedi said.

Armed men killed foreign tourists, including Japanese, Polish, Italian and Spanish visitors, last Wednesday as they got off buses at the Bardo Museum, inside the parliament compound that is normally heavily guarded.

One police officer working at the museum had been arrested for abandoning his post during the attack, local media reported. Officials did not immediately confirm the detention.

Blow to tourism industry

It was the worst attack in more than a decade in Tunisia, testing the North African country’s young democracy four years after the revolt that overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and opened the way for free elections.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which has badly shaken the crucial tourism industry in the North African nation considered the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts.

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Two gunmen were shot dead at the scene in Tunis and authorities say they are looking for a third suspect.

They have so far arrested more than 20 people, 10 of whom officials believe were directly involved in the attack. Some had recently returned from fighting for armed groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Security forces have been caught up in a growing battle with fighters in Tunisia, some of whom are returning from training and fighting overseas.

Authorities say the two men blamed for that attack had no clear links to armed groups.

Several well-armed groups in neighbouring and chaotic Libya have pledged allegiance to ISIL.

Source: News Agencies