TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia’s Interior Ministry has said that a man who attempted to attack security officials in central Tunis was a known extremist.
The 31-year-old man previously studied abroad and is on a list of Takfiris, an extremist group that views other Muslims or certain groups as apostates, according to a statement released late Friday on the ministry’s Facebook page.
Local media reports that the man is from Monastir, an affluent coastal town 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Tunis. The suspect hasn't been officially named.
Video from the scene that circulated on social media shows a bearded man walking up and down Habib Bourguiba Avenue — Tunis’ central thoroughfare — carrying a long knife and an ax. The man then heads towards the Interior Ministry, chased by a group of men in civilian clothing, and jumps the barriers that surround the building. Video footage then shows chaos break out as the man runs at police officers while swinging his weapons before a volley of shots is fired.
The attack began after police officers noticed the individual carrying a large bag walking on the avenue and asked him for his ID. The man reportedly took out a large knife and tried to attack anyone who approached him. After he was chased along the avenue by security agents and civilians, the man jumped over the ministry's barriers.
“He was repeatedly asked to surrender and throw down what he had, but he continued to confront all those who approached him, brandishing a big knife and chanting, “Oh tyrant, God is the greatest, you infidels,” reads the statement.
A security officer then shot the man, reportedly in the legs, and the man was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Francesca Ebel, The Associated Press