Tunisian officers stabbed near synagogue; suspect arrested

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) – A man with a knife attacked police officers stationed near a synagogue in Tunisia’s capital, injuring one on the shoulder and another on the hand, authorities said Friday.

The attacker fled after the overnight stabbing but was located nearby soon after along with the knife and arrested, Interior Ministry spokesperson Fadhila Khelifi told a news conference.

She described the incident as a terrorist attack and said investigators were trying to determine whether the suspect had accomplices. The motive was unclear.

Khelifi mentioned unspecified threats targeting President Kais Saied, aimed at “undermining public security and sowing chaos in Tunisia.” She did not provide further details, citing ongoing investigations.

The attack took place outside the Tunis synagogue, the director of the Interior Ministry’s communications office, Faker Bouzgaya told The Associated Press.

He said the assailant was released from prison last year after serving time for acts of public violence.

In addition to the economic and social difficulties the North African nation has faced for many years, Tunisia is gripped by an acute political crisis since Saied granted himself sweeping powers in July 2021, saying he needed to “save the country” from chaos.

Many voices of the opposition accuse him of taking a totalitarian path, endangering the democratic experiment Tunisia undertook after the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

Saied plans to submit a new constitution to a July 25 referendum. It would establish a presidential system of government in place of the hybrid one Tunisia has now. He has said he plans to order a Dec. 17 election to elect a new parliament. Saied dissolved the previous one.

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