United States diplomats thanked the government of Tunisia on Friday for their rapid response and investigation, following an attempted bomb attack near the U.S. embassy in Tunis.
“We are outraged by the attack and saddened to learn of the loss of Lt. Taoufik Missaoui,” said Ambassador Donald Blome in a statement offering the government’s condolences. “The Tunisian security forces have demonstrated high professionalism (and) we reaffirm our commitment to our long-term friendship with Tunisia, and our alliance with them against the scourge of terrorism.”
Missaoui was killed in the attack when two people on a motorbike blew themselves up near the embassy in the northern part of the city. Interior Minister Hichem Mechichi, however, said the incident did not target the U.S. embassy, but rather a police patrol in the same area of the upscale Berges du Lac district.
Mechichi said five other Tunisian officers were injured in the attack, as well as a Tunisian female citizen. He did not provide additional details, according to official Tunisian outlet TAP, but said an investigation is ongoing into the identities and affiliation of the attackers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. While Tunisia’s challenges with extremist groups are often not as visible as those in neighboring nations, it has continued to combat terrorist activity since the high-profile attack at a Port El Kantaoui resort in 2015. Tunisia also struggles with the question of how to deal with returning Islamic State fighters from Syria and Iraq, after becoming one of the top sources in the world for exporting fighters to the region.
Image: U.S. Embassy Tunis