On Sunday, March 29, Tunisian authorities announced that the leader of the jihadist group Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade that organized the attack at the Bardo National Museum was killed along with eight other members.
The attack took place on March 18. The two assigned gunmen killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman.
Prime Minister Habib Essid was the one who made Sunday’s announcement. He stated that the leader, Algerian Lokmane Abou Sakhr and eight of the organization’s most important members were killed in a mission in the west-central area of Sidi Aich. Gharsalli Najem, the Tunisian Interior Minister said that the head of the jihadist group was found travelling by car and shot at a checkpoint.
According to authorities, Okba Ibn Nafaa was responsible for numerous attacks, including the recent museum tragedy. These terrorist operations have begun in late 2012 and left a total of 60 people dead.
Meanwhile, thousands of Tunisians gathered in a march against terrorism. President Beji Caid Essebsi joined the march. In his speech he talked about how the Tunisian people have proven they would not approve of terrorism in their country.
Foreign leaders also attended the march. France’s President Francois Hollande participated out of solidarity, as his country faced a similar terrorist attack in January in Paris, when two Islamic extremists attacked the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, popular for its satirical sketches which portrayed the prophet Muhammad.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas also joined the march. PM Renzi made the following statement:
“We are here today to give a message of hope… We want to say that Tunisia does not stand alone: we are together in combating terrorism.”
During the demonstration a stone tablet was displayed. It included the names of the killed tourists and that of the slayed Tunisian policeman.
Officials did not reveal the total number of people who attended the march which was organized under tight security. One of the participants had wrapped the Tunisian flag around her while yelling “Tunisia is not a country of jihad, extremism and terrorism!”.
Tunisia has been dealing with an abrupt rise in Islamic extremism since the overthrow of leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 but is proud of having managed to form a democratic government, a marked discrepancy compared to neighboring countries such as Libya, Syria and Yemen.
Image Source: BBC