'Mastermind' of Tunisia IS-claimed suicide bombings killed in police standoff

'Mastermind' of Tunisia IS-claimed suicide bombings killed in police standoff
The interior ministry said the 'very dangerous leader' was killed in a standoff with the police in the Tunisian capital overnight.
2 min read
03 July, 2019
Eyewitness reports indicate Smiri blew himself up using an explosive vest [AFP]
An militant suspected of planning last week's twin suicide bombings in the Tunisian capital was killed overnight in a firefight with police, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.

A police investigation had concluded that the man, named as Aymen Smiri, was the "mastermind" of suicide bombings that hit the capital Tunis last week. The two separate attacks had targeted the police, leaving one police officer dead and several people wounded.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both of last weeks' attacks.

A policeman was also killed in the exchange of fire that left Smiri dead, ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag told AFP.

Zaag added that Smiri had been a "very active and very dangerous leader".

An earlier interior ministry statement said that special forces had surrounded Smiri in the Intilaka area of Tunis following a long police chase.

"When forces began shooting, he blew himself up with an explosive belt he was wearing," the statement said, adding that there had been no other casualties. Residents of the area confirmed to Reuters they had heard an explosion at the time.

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It is unclear at this time whether the killed policeman died due to injuries sustained in the fire fight or explosion.

There were no other casualties, the ministry said.

Tunisia has been engaged in a battle with various militant groups operate in remote areas in its border with Algeria since a revolution overthrew former leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali eight years ago.

The capital was rocked by a suicide bombing last October that wounded 15 people, including ten police officers. 

That attack ended a long period of calm after tens of people were killed in extremist attacks in 2015, one at a museum in Tunis and another at a beach in Sousse, a seaside town popular with tourists.