A Tunisian soldier opened fire on fellow troops inside the central army barracks in the capital on Monday morning, killing four soldiers and wounding 13 others, the Tunisian state news agency reported, citing the president’s spokesman. The soldier was killed in an exchange of fire.
The shooting caused alarm in the capital, Tunis, where security forces have been on full alert since two gunmen attacked the National Bardo Museum in March, killing 21 tourists and a police officer. The police blamed that attack on extremist Islamist groups based in Libya that had trained the Tunisian gunmen in camps in western Libya.It was not immediately clear what prompted the soldier to open fire on his colleagues. Tunisia has conscription, but many men avoid their two years of military service and the government conducts sporadic sweeps of neighborhoods to pick up evaders.
The Tunisian Army and National Guard have been fighting an Islamist insurgency in the mountainous region along the country’s western border for the past four years and have suffered casualties on mines and in ambushes. The United States is providing military equipment and training to the Tunisian security forces.
Some of those wounded on Monday were in serious condition and were transported to the military hospital of Tunis, the news agency said. A spokesman for the Defense Ministry, Lt. Col. Belhassen Oueslati, confirmed the shooting but did not release casualty figures.
The soldier who opened fire was a corporal and not permitted to carry a weapon inside the barracks, but he seized a weapon off another soldier and opened fire on his colleagues, the spokesman said.