Tunis: Tunisian security forces killed six people, including five women, ending a 24 hour stand-off with an Islamist militant group on the outskirts of Tunis on Friday, two days before a parliamentary election, authorities said.
At least two militants and women and children had been holed up in the house in Oeud Ellil, west of Tunis, since Thursday after clashes in which one police officer was killed when troops surrounded the building, according to security officials.
One militant and five women were killed when troops stormed the house on Friday, and at least one of the women had opened fire on security forces with a rifle, an interior ministry spokesman said.
The state news agency said on Friday that one child was wounded as well as a member of security forces in the morning assault.
Interior Minister Mohammad Ali Aroui described all the dead as terrorists.
Responding to a tip-off, police surrounded the home in the Tunis suburbs on Thursday morning and were shot at by the inhabitants, killing one policeman.
Electricity and gas to the home were cut and after negotiations failed to evacuate the women and children, security forces moved in.
Authorities had warned that they would storm a house unless the gunmen inside surrendered within hours.
“We cannot wait any longer. We will give them an ultimatum of one or two hours maximum, then we will lead the assault,” Ali Aroui told reporters.
The confrontation came as security tightened in the lead-up to the parliamentary elections on Sunday — the first since the nation’s revolution three years ago.
An explosion was heard in the area at around dawn on Friday but the origin was unknown.
Officials say they plan to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers and police for Sunday’s election, warning that “terrorist” elements are seeking to disrupt the vote.
Parties were wrapping up campaigning on Friday for what is seen as a highlight of a transition that has been tested by militant attacks and social unrest in the impoverished North African nation.
Islamists suppressed under former strongman Zein Al Abidine Bin Ali have proliferated since his overthrow in the 2011 uprising.
Militants have been blamed for a wave of attacks, including last year’s assassination of two leftist politicians whose murders plunged the country into a protracted political crisis.